Linked by Gordon Korman


Gordon Korman, Author

Scholastic Press, Fiction, Jul. 20, 2021

Pages: 256

Suitable for ages: 8-12

Themes: Hate, Tolerance, Holocaust, Jews, KKK, Self-discovery, Friendship, Community 

Publisher’s Synopsis:

Link, Michael, and Dana live in a quiet town in Chokecherry, Colorado. But it’s woken up very quickly when someone sneaks into middle school and vandalizes it with a swastika.

Nobody can believe it. How could such a symbol of hate end up in the middle of their school? Who would do such a thing?

Because Michael was the first person to see it, he’s the first suspect. Because Link is one of the most popular guys in school, everyone’s looking to him to figure it out. And because Dana’s the only Jewish girl in the whole town, everyone’s treating her more like an outsider than ever.

The mystery deepens as more swastikas begin to appear. Some students decide to fight back and start a project to bring people together instead of dividing them further. The closer Link, Michael, and Dana get to the truth, the more there is to face-not just the crimes of the present, but the crimes of the past.

With Linked, Gordon Korman, the author of the acclaimed novel Restart, poses a mystery for all readers where the who did it? isn’t nearly as important as the why?

Why I liked Linked:

Gordon Korman’s inspiring novel is about students working together to make a statement that HATE will not be tolerated in their middle school. Korman’s contemporary story is a timely read for young people. It connects the past, present and future into a powerful and important MUST read novel about hope.

Alternating voices allows readers to really get into the thoughts and emotions of well-developed  and believable main characters — Link, Michael, Dana, Caroline, Pouncey — and many more supporting characters. Link is the popular athlete, known to pull pranks with his group of friends, until a sobering family secret emerges. Dana is the only Jewish girl in school and feels like an outsider.  Michael is president of the art club and Pouncey’s grandfather is rumored to have been a member of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK), Everyone is suspect, especially after 26 more swastikas continue to appear.

Together the students decide to make a statement and make a paper chain with six million links, each honoring a Holocaust victim. Before long, the entire community, country and world are involved in the paper chain project about tolerance and remembrance — thanks to a popular and questionable  “YouTube” video blogger who covers the events. There are many more moments in this story that demonstrate how kids can make a difference.

The plot is strong, realistic and relevant today.  Kudos to the author for writing a story that introduces readers to the horrors of the Holocaust, racism and the KKK in an understandable way. He shows how the past still can influence the present and how hate is not acceptable. There are many dark secrets and major twists and turns in this engaging mystery. The ending surprised me. The most important takeaway for readers is that the stories of the Holocaust and its victims must be told to each new generation and not forgotten.  

This story has a lot of heart and is one of my favorite reads this year. Although the subject of hate may seem heavy, it is balanced well with the students’ response and Korman’s uplifting writing and sense of humor throughout the story. And of course there is a lot of typical middle school drama in the mix. Make sure you read the author’s note about the story at the end.

Gordon Korman is the #1 bestselling author of such modern classics as Restart, War Stories, Slacker, Whatshisface, Ungifted, and This Can’t be Happening at Macdonald Hall (published when he was fourteen). He lives in New York with his family. Visit Korman at his website

Greg Pattridge hosts Marvelous Middle Grade Monday posts on his wonderful Always in the Middle website. Check out the link to see all of the wonderful reviews by KidLit bloggers and authors. 

*I won this review copy of Linked on Greg Pattridge’s website Always in the Middle



About Patricia Tiltonhttps://childrensbooksheal.wordpress.comI want "Children's Books Heal" to be a resource for parents, grandparents, teachers and school counselors. My goal is to share books on a wide range of topics that have a healing impact on children who are facing challenges in their lives. If you are looking for good books on grief, autism, visual and hearing impairments, special needs, diversity, bullying, military families and social justice issues, you've come to the right place. I also share books that encourage art, imagination and creativity. I am always searching for those special gems to share with you. If you have a suggestion, please let me know.

28 thoughts on “Linked by Gordon Korman

  1. Great review of my fav book of 2021! As a CYBILS judge in 2022, our committee of bloggers voted LINKED by Gordon Korman #1!
    I finished his #100 novel for MG readers this summer. I am especially pleased that you highlighted the author’s use of humor, his trademark, which contributes to the appeal of his books for all ages.


  2. Hi Patricia! I haven’t read Restart or Linked, but after reading this review, I added them to my reading list. You mention on your profile that you are always searching for special gems to share with readers and to let you know if we have suggestions. I work with an author who is launching a book in late October, and I’d love to tell you about it if you’re able to share your contact information with me. Thank you!


      • Thank you, Patricia. This is not related to the holocaust, but I’ll abbreviate the pitch here. I work with children’s author Leonora Teale, who writes novels and short stories for children aged 9-13. She is the creator of a new, beautifully illustrated edition of classic children’s novel Black Beauty by Anna Sewell, which releases in late October.

        If you ever accept guest posts, Leonora would love to write an article for Children’s Books Heal on how horses (and writing a book about horses) helped a disabled woman experience healing.

        I can provide more information and a writing sample if you’re interested and have an email address I could send it to! Thank you for your consideration.


  3. This is so important! Thank you. I am sending to my friend , Pat Black Gouldwho wrote The Crystal Beads; Lalka’s Journey, a powerful story of the Holocaust.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much for including me, Antoinette. This is an excellent review of a book I’m looking forward to reading.
      Since Linked is a book about middle school students, I’d like to let everyone know about the Paper Clip Project at Whitwell Middle School in Tennessee. Students there collected one paper clip for each individual who perished in the Holocaust. I included the story in the Afterword of my book, The Crystal Beads, Lalka’s Journey. Readers may find out more about Whitwell at


      • Thanks for commenting. Yes, Whitwell was Gordon Korman’s inspiration behind his story. He mentions the story in his author’s note. I’ve read about it too — it is impressive what they accomplished.

        Looked up your book and it sounds very interesting! Thanks for letting me know.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. As you know I thoroughly enjoyed this compelling story from Gordon Korman. After getting over the initial shock of so many viewpoints it all came together in a perfect way. Thanks for featuring this title on MMGM!


  5. I’m a big fan of Korman’s work. Many of his stories have great humor, but this one sounds especially intriguing for its more serious nature.


  6. Patricia, I didn’t realize linked was about Whitwell. I definitely will grab Linked. I’m heading back to Whitwell in a few weeks to do some work with the kids and share my book with them. The entire atmosphere of that school, in general, is impressive. I’m so happy to have the opportunity to be part of their program.


    • I can only imagine! Would love to see Whitwell someday. The inspiration for Korman’s story was the Whitwell story. But, his story is unique and a different twist, but I know you’d love it! Enjoy your time in Whitwell.


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