Twerp – Mark Goldblatt
First things first, Netgalley, thank you very much for offering me a chance to read this, I never would have picked it up otherwise and it’s all kinds of awesome. So, thank you.
Here’s the blurb: 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 week long 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.
I’ve never really been one for middle grade stuff. When I was the age that was intended for I was into adult books, now I’m classed as an adult I’m into YA, but still, I actually really liked this. It read a little bit too advanced for a childrens book though, I know Julian was only supposed to be twelve, but he came across as being much more articulate than any other twelve year olds I know, but maybe that’s a good thing, it’ll be accessible to a much wider market. This reminded me a lot of Wonder. In fact, if Wonder and Stand By Me ever met, married and had a child, that child would be Twerp.
It’s set in sixties New York when kids could still play out on the street and enjoy themselves running around car parks and the like which I think creates a sense of excitement and adventure that is endearing and which you certainly don’t get in a modern day setting when kids are just beating each other at Halo or whatever it is kids do these days. I’m not very down with the kids. As proven by the fact that I just used that sentence.
Julian is a very likable character, he’s smart and has such a finely tuned moral compass that he seems to be the perfect kid to teach other kids about how to treat each other. There is a strong anti bullying message though out this whilst Julian tries to navigate growing up, keeping his loyalties to his best friends and generally just trying to remain being the fastest kid on the block. He really develops as a character over his series of journal entries, which was really lovely to see, it was kind of like watching him grow up before my eyes.
I definitely think this should be on school reading lists and appearing on library shelves as soon as it’s published, not only is it endearing, charming and entertaining but it’s also a life lesson in how not to be a douche. And I think we could all use reminding of that some times.
I really loved this and I think kids of all ages (even some big ones) will too so it gets a Nick Fury Seal of approval.