Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Book Review: Twerp by Mark Goldblatt

, by Mark Goldblatt
, 2013, 288p, Rating=5 
Source: Free ARC provided by NetGalley
Middle-grade fiction 
Release Date: May 28, 2013 

It's not like I meant for Danley to get hurt. . . .

Julian Twerski isn't a bully. He's just made a big mistake. So when he returns to school after a weeklong suspension, his English teacher offers him a deal: if he keeps a journal and writes about the terrible incident that got him and his friends suspended, he can get out of writing a report on Shakespeare. Julian jumps at the chance. And so begins his account of life in sixth grade--blowing up homemade fireworks, writing a love letter for his best friend (with disastrous results), and worrying whether he's still the fastest kid in school. Lurking in the background, though, is the one story he can't bring himself to tell, the one story his teacher most wants to hear.

Inspired by Mark Goldblatt's own childhood growing up in 1960s Queens, Twerp shines with humor and heart. This remarkably powerful story will have readers laughing and crying right along with these flawed but unforgettable characters.

This book is written in a journal format. Julian Twerski, or Twerp, is writing it so he can get out of writing a report on Shakespeare. His teacher, Mr. Selkirk, wants him to write about the incident with Danley Dimmel but he avoids it, writing about everything else instead. 

The year is 1969, a simpler time before electronics when kids explored outside and did some crazy things (which does still happen today, just not as often, it seems). He chucks rocks at birds with his best friend, Lonnie, races cars and makes homemade fireworks with his group of friends (yes, that turns out as well as it sounds).

The mind of a 6th grader is highly entertaining. I laughed out loud several times, especially when he wrote the love letter for his friend. That set off a chain reaction of events that ended about how you would expect it to and was fun to read. It also does a good job of showing the relationship between young boys--they can really tick each other off but get over it and come back together as friends. With a son this age, I see it all the time, and within a few days, he's off playing with the boy he swore he'd never be friends with again. Which is a good thing.

At the beginning, Julian doesn't understand how writing his thoughts down is going to help him with the incident and by the end, he learns a valuable lesson. I enjoyed watching his growth as the story went on and imagine his journal writing was a life changing experience for him. This is a book I want my children to read. I was able to read an advance copy and this book isn't actually available until May 28, 2013.



Jinky said...

I like books written in journal format when it works and it sounds like this one did! Boy craziness is an inviting topic ..my boys doesn't do much yet but middle-grade is just around the corner for my oldest. --I'll have to keep my eye out for this one ..remind me, I'm forgetful. :D

Melanie said...

Boys are funny to me! I will try to remember to remind you--how's that for commitment?

Katie W said...

This sounds like something some of my kids would like.

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