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Reviewed by:
  • Twerp by Mark Goldblatt
  • Karen Coats
Goldblatt, Mark . Twerp. Random House, 2013. [288p]. Library ed. ISBN 978-0-375-97143-3 $19.99 Trade ed. ISBN 978-0-375-97142-6 $16.99 E-book ed. ISBN 978-0-375-97144-0 $10.99 Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 5-7.

Julian and his friends have done something despicable (though it's not initially clear what), and in addition to getting suspended, Julian has to write a journal chronicling his sixth-grade year. His audience is his English teacher, and he knows that he is supposed to write about the incident, but he's got other stories to tell, stories that help put what happened into context as he explores his changing relationships with his friends. Though the story is set in 1969, Julian's difficulties as his absolute fidelity to his boyhood guy gang is challenged by the bewildering and complicated world of girls and growing up will ring true for contemporary readers. Not everything is as credible (how likely would it be for an eleven-year-old to have read Cyrano de Bergerac?), but the book is well-structured, with metaphors that carry emotional resonance and episodes that showcase the fiercely felt loyalties and confusions as well as the laughable stupidity of preteen boys in groups. The writing is elegant in its simplicity and accessibility; Julian is witty without any distancing snarkiness, and he is genuinely sorry for the bullying incident that prompted the writing assignment, proving that good kids can sometimes make grievous mistakes in judgment but neither the bullies nor the bullied have to get stuck in those positions. [End Page 507]



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