2015, 352p, Middle-Grade Fiction
My Rating=5 Stars
Source: Received a copy from the publisher for an honest review
It’s not a test unless you can fail. . . .
Trouble always seems to find thirteen-year-old Julian Twerski. First it was a bullying incident, and now he’s been accused of vandalizing a painting. The principal doesn’t want to suspend him again, so instead, he asks Julian to write a 200-word essay on good citizenship. Julian writes 200 no’s instead, and so begins an epic struggle between Julian and his principal.
Being falsely accused is bad enough, but outside of school, Julian’s dealing with even bigger issues. His friend Quentin has been really sick. How can life be fair when the nicest guy in your group has cancer? Julian’s faith and friendships are put to the test . . . and the stakes have never been higher.
I loved Twerp and was excited to hear that there was a sequel. (You can learn more about Twerp and read my review on it here). I read this book with my children and we all loved it! This book is great as a standalone. There are some references to incidents that happened in Twerp, but you won't feel lost if you haven't read it.
This book is set in 1970 so times were simpler. There's a group of boys who are best friends and hang out together. Their friend, Quentin, has been sick and in the hospital and they learn that he has a brain tumor. They are worried about him but are told he'll be fine so when he comes home, they treat him like they always have, but are a bit more careful with him. There are some funny things that happen, some of which involve a pinball machine and, separately, a wheelchair. He seems to be getting better and then gets sick again and it's not until the end that we find out what his diagnosis is. There were a few tears shed while reading this book.
There's also a girl involved with their group this time around. Her name is Beverly and she's anxious to race Julian to show him she's a faster runner. He has a reputation as being the fastest runner and she feels a need to beat him but he doesn't want to race a girl. It was fun to see how that storyline wrapped up. There are also some great storylines that include Julian's principal and Rabbi Salzberg.
This is a book that made us laugh, cry and think. When we were finished, my daughter (age 11) asked to read Twerp because she wanted more of this group of boys and their friendship. This book is a little more serious but I enjoyed it just as much! If you enjoy coming-of-age stories, these are ones you'll want to read!
Mark Goldblatt is a theologian, novelist, columnist and book reviewer as well as a professor at Fashion Institute of Technology of the State University of New York.
His controversial first novel, Africa Speaks, a satire of black urban culture, was published in 2002 by The Permanent Press. His second novel, Sloth, a comedic take on postmodernism, was published in 2010 by Greenpoint Press. The Unrequited, a literary mystery from Five Star/Cengage, followed in 2013 — the same year Random House released Twerp, a novel for young (and old) readers.
Goldblatt's book of political commentary, Bumper Sticker Liberalism was published by Broadside/Harpercollins in 2012. He has written hundreds of opinion pieces and book reviews for a combination of the New York Post, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Reason Magazine, Commentary, Ducts Webzine, The Common Review, USA Today, the Daily News, Newsday, National Review, the Daily Caller and the American Spectator.
His academic articles have appeared in Philosophy Now, the Chronicle of Higher Education, Academic Questions, Sewanee Theological Review, English Renaissance Prose, Issues in Developmental Education 1999, the Encyclopedia of Tudor England and the Dictionary of Literary Biography.
He has been a guest on Inside City Hall on NY1, the Catherine Crier Show on Court TV and done dozens of interviews for print and web journals and radio stations. His integrity has been called into question by the Village Voice, which should count for something.