Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Review: Twerp by Mark Goldblatt

by Mark Goldblatt

Available as: hardcover, Kindle edition, ebook, audiobook
Pages: 288
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Publication date: May 28, 2013
Suggested tags: middle grade, historical fiction, 20th century

From Goodreads:
"It's not like I meant for him 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."

{ I received this as an ebook ARC from NetGalley. }

I wasn't sure if I would enjoy Twerp or not, since I figured I'm not exactly the target audience (being an adult female), but I still wanted to give it a shot. The journal format intrigued me, and it turns out that was my favorite thing about the book. The story as a whole just didn't grab me, despite being well written and powerfully explored. But I'm pretty sure the fact that I came away with a feeling of "well, I guess it was alright" was an issue with my own personal taste, in that I picked this book up when I had a feeling it wouldn't be my preferred sort of book. So please read my review accordingly, and know that if that synopsis sounds exactly like your sort of book, you will probably really love Twerp, because it is very well done and it does tell a great story.

Twerp is made up of a series of journal entries that Julian writes as an assignment for school. He writes reluctantly at first, but he opens up bit by bit with each entry. I thought the journal format really worked well to share Julian's stories and get to the heart of his feelings and experiences. But I found that I had a problem connecting with Julian, and I think the reason for this is, stated simply, that I grew up a girl in the 1990s and not a boy in the 1960s. I just don't have much in common with Julian, so it was hard for me to really put myself in his place, despite the author's excellent writing.

In a nutshell, I think Twerp is a great book and I can see how lots of readers would really enjoy it. Personally, I thought it was a good book but it didn't really leave a lasting impression on me, because I just felt a bit disconnected from it all. Like I was on the outside looking in. And again, that is no fault of the author's; that's my fault for choosing a book I should have known would not be quite my thing. I just wanted to try something new. But I can't stress enough that if that the synopsis appeals to you, you should definitely give Twerp a read. It delivers everything that synopsis promises: humor, heart, and unforgettable characters.

Overall rating: 3 out of 5 stars

{ Favorite Quotes from Twerp }

"I hate the guy, William Shakespeare. If I met him on the street, I'd just keep walking. Because you know, you just know, while he was writing the stuff he was writing, he was thinking how clever he was. He was sitting at his desk, writing the words, and he could've just said what he meant, but instead he prettied it up until it could mean everything or it could mean nothing or it could mean whatever the teacher says it means. That just drives me bananas."

"But it was just common sense. If his brain was right, Lonnie would've been the first to realize that. Which goes to show how love messes up your brain. It worms itself in there, inside your brain, and then there's a short circuit. I'm no expert on the subject. I'm just going by Howie and Lonnie. Love makes great guys into idiots."

{ More about Mark Goldblatt }

Mark Goldblatt's website

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