Twerp by Mark Goldblatt

Title: Twerp
Author: Mark Goldblatt
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Expected Release: May 28, 2013
Source: publisher (NetGalley)


“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. Ages 9 and up.

Twerp is formatted as if it is the journal the main character, Julian, is asked to keep. As soon as I started reading, I wanted to know what the bullying incident involved. What happened? We don’t find out for a while, but I liked the placement of those details. It gave me an opportunity to get to know Julian through his own words first, rather than letting a horrible mistake make the initial impression.

Julian has a lot of wisdom for a kid his age. He’s tenderhearted and thoughtful. He’s intelligent – he goes on these little rabbit trails when he writes, and it’s fascinating to read along and see how his mind works.

Twerp shows how easily a “good kid” can get involved in something terrible. It is a coming of age story that works through the process of breaking away from peer pressure, learning to think independently, trusting oneself, and listening to the voice that tell us, “this is the right thing to do.”

Thanks to the animated and relevant voice of its main character, Twerp is certain to connect with middle grade readers. Geared for ages 9 and up.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive any other compensation for this review.

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