Review: Twerp, Mark Goldblatt

October 5, 2013 Reviews 1 ★★★★½

Review: Twerp, Mark GoldblattTwerp by Mark Goldblatt
Published by Random House Children's on 28 May 2013
Genres: Children's Fiction, New Adult
Pages: 288
Source: My copy
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four-half-stars

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.

natashas_review

“Sometimes when you brace yourself for a storm, you get a gentle breeze. The storm only comes when you’re braced for nothing whatsoever”

I don’t usually review children’s books, but when I read the premise of Twerp I decided to break the rules.

The story is told from the perspective of Julian Twerski, a twelve-year-old boy living in New York in 1969. After an undisclosed incident involving another boy named Danley Dimmel, Julian is suspended from school and asked by his English teacher to write about the events leading up to this incident. What follows is a humorous, honest and touching account of a sixth grade boy trying to get to grips with that awkward space between childhood and adulthood.

I absolutely loved reading Twerp. I am a thirty something mother who grew up in South Africa, but when I read Twerp I was a twelve year old from Queens in the 60’s. Julian’s voice seemed so authentic I had to remind myself it was written by a New York Times columnist in his fifties.

The thing I probably liked most about this book is all the positive messages it sends to the kids who will read it. It teaches tolerance and has very strong anti-bullying messages without being preachy. The characters are flawed; they make mistakes, but in the end they own up to these mistakes and accept the consequences of their actions. A lot of adults could learn from this book.

Twerp covers an array of pre-teen experiences and emotions. From first love to first betrayal. But the main emphasis always is on friendship and loyalty. It is a warm and funny read, bursting with pre-adolescent mischief but remains innocent at heart. I hope my son will read this book one day.

Kids will love the antics of the characters so much they won’t even realise they are being taught valuable moral lessons.  Well done Mark Goldblatt!

four-half-stars

Natasha lives in Brisbane, Australia with her husband and son. She is a self confessed bibliophile who enjoys literature and adult fiction. She also loves travelling and aims to visit 40 countries by the time she is 40 (current count 36).

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