How I Wrote Vertical: A Skateboarding Book with Boy Appeal

Skateboarding has a magical appeal to young boys and teens and Eoff Berend wanted to write a book that they could not put down. Although not a a skateboarder, as a San Diego County high school teacher she is surrounded by the culture and as a parent of a preteen with a skateboard ramp in her yard the culture spills into her home too. So in Vertical, she channels some of her students to find Josh’s voice and had her manuscript teen tested for authentic skate speak. Vertical’s protagonist is challenged by great literary works he reads in his English class–a language Eoff Berend is more conversant with. The author wrote this high interest novel aimed at boys but, fortunately, also enjoyed by girls.
In Vertical, skateboarder Josh Lowman is faced with a gut wrenching decision, but his friendship with an unlikely bookworm and the conversations they have about literature, steer him toward a new kind of courage.Vertical is her attempt to reach readers in a meaningful way and to offer them a novel that will not only entertain them, but keep them thinking, too.

Here are some of the reviews for Vertical.

“Berend captures perfectly the bravado and angst of teenage boys hooked on wanting to risk it all and terrified of losing something they can’t define. A tightly drawn tale of when to speak out and the cost of friendship, Vertical glides in and out of trouble as deftly as Josh Lowman’s skateboard.”

—Sarah Collins Honenberger, author of the bestseller Catcher, Caught

Vertical gives you the true feeling of what it’s like to have an obsession with skateboarding.”

—Mike McGill, skateboarding legend

“I really felt a connection to this book and all of the skateboarding parts. It just feels real.”

—Mitchie Brusco, youngest athlete to compete in the X Games 2011 Mega Ramp, first person to land the 900 in Mega Ramp competition

“The narrator’s voice is very authentic. Skating details are incredible. . . . The tension builds gradually and becomes a real page-turner. . . . Teens will appreciate the appeal of day-to-day skating challenges overlaid with larger life challenges. Being a teenager often does feel like being at the top of a large half pipe and what kid doesn’t want to feel that exhilaration of soaring above it all?”

—Laurie Stowell, Ph.D., California State University, San Marcos, Literacy Education