Reaching Dustin Summary
More than anything, Carly Cameron wants to become editor of her sixth-grade class newspaper. The student who writes the best profile from an interview assignment will get this prestigious job. How horrified she is when she draws classmate Dustin Groat, a dirty, unkempt outcast, as her subject.
Determined to do the best interview she can, Carly asks questions that should get simple answers, but Dustin's odd responses draw a portrait of a life of tragedy and abuse that she can hardly imagine. In third grade the obnoxious boy's social behavior turned violent. Carly is stunned to discover that in a single action in reading group that year, she "melted" Dustin by ridiculing him in front of the class. He turned quiet, nearly invisible, sitting at the back of the room, doing no schoolwork, passing time.
With resolve fueled by guilt, Carly wants to make things right with this boy and rescue him from his sordid family life. She tries several ways to reach him, and she discovers that it is much easier to destroy someone than to build him up. Both Carly and Dustin must reach out to understand each other and build a bridge that will allow Dustin to overcome his family life and make a life for himself.