In YA Book Reviews on August 11, 2013 at 5:20 am


 byMark Goldblatt

YA Contemporary Fiction/ @2013/ 274 pages/Recommended for ages 10 and up*

Publisher Blurb (from the book jacket):

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.

My Thoughts:

This book has it all – a strong main character, interesting supporting characters, engaging plot, important life lessons. Though clearly a YA book, this will appeal to adults as well.

This is a coming of age story about adolescence and friendship told in journal format by the main character Julian. He is supposed to be writing about the incident with Danley, as per his teacher’s direction, because “if I write about what happened, I’ll understand what happened” (and also because he will get out of having to write a report on Shakespeare). Of course, all the way through the book, you are waiting to find out what exactly happened to Danley. However, Julian does his best to downplay that incident. Instead, he diverts attention by going into detail about other things happening in his life – his antics with his friends, his first date, his incredible running ability. Some of the details are laugh out loud funny. You get a very clear, and often humorous, look inside the mind of your typical middle school boy. All of that certainly keeps the reader engaged while still waiting for the answer to the initial question about what happened to Danley. Without giving anything away, let me just say that the ending is powerful and will stay with you.

My Rating: 5/5 Stars  (This is a book that will stand the test of time.)

If you liked this book: You might also like Wonder by R. J. Palacio.

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