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.
I don't know if I would have chosen this book on my own but I'm glad I did. The story is told in journal style by twelve year-old Julian, the main character who is growing up in the 1960s. This is an assignment in response to an incident he was involved in that's not revealed until much later. Although he's not happy, he takes to it and the events slowly unfold that led up to the suspension. That may have been the teacher's main intention but I found the rest of his life more interesting. Details of friendships, budding romance, school and home were well done and it took me back to my own middle school days, the good and the bad. The characters were interesting and quirky (I do love quirky), and more mischievous than malicious. Peer pressure is definitely a factor when the boys get together. The struggle to make the right decision but still fit in weighs heavy on young minds.
I enjoyed following Julian's growth and introspection throughout the school year. I really liked reading the journal entries, I just didn't find them very believable coming from a boy that age. It was too well written. I still found it to be a good story and would recommend it to others.
Thank you to NetGalley for an ebook arc in exchange for my honest review.
Release date: 5/28/13
Publisher: Random House for Young Readers
Pages: 288 (hardcover)
Type: middle grade fiction