Review: Twerp by Mark Goldblatt

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Title: Twerp
Author: Mark Goldblatt
Format: Hardcover, eBook, AudioBook, AudioCD
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Pages: 288
ISBN: 978-0375971426
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Genre: Children’s Books 9 and up
Stars: 4
Purchase Now: Amazon  § Audible §  Barnes and Noble

About the Book:
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 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 powerful writing that will have readers laughing and crying right along with these flawed but unforgettable characters.

Book Review:

This was a really unique, clever and honest look at a sixth grade boy’s life, growing up in Queens: friends, worries, girls and eventually guilt about the bullying he was half-heartedly involved in.

The story feels honest, and with the setting of 1969 the outside ‘distractions’ are far more direct: friends, girls, hating homework, and all of those activities you filled those hours after school with that wouldn’t and didn’t involve television or computers.

While initially started as a way to get out of a dreaded class assignment, the journal quickly spins into a clever diary of life, interests and even concerns and guilt that Julian has. While dealing with the core issue of bullying, the author doesn’t bring in a preachy tone, or even a particularly adult tone: language use and approach is completely appropriate for a 12 year old, and would provide good perspective for children in middle school. The whole story is carefully structured to appear not-so decidedly constructed, with a stream of consciousness style that is easy and enjoyable to read.

I received a copy of the book from the publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review as part of the Children Read week at I am, Indeed. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.

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