Twerp by Mark Goldblatt
Published: Random House for Young Readers, 28th May 2013
Length: 288 pages (eBook edition)
Where Did I Get It? Kindly received for review from NetGalley
Summary (from Goodreads):
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.
My English teacher, Mr Selkirk, says I have to write something, and it has to be long, on account of the thing that happened over winter recess – which, in my opinion, doesn’t amount to much.
This is not the type of book that I would usually pick up but I really enjoyed it nonetheless.
A book about taking responsibility for your actions, Twerp is told through the eyes of Julian, a 13 year old boy growing up in 1960s America and is an honest and heart-warming read.
The narrative is very true to the voice of a 13 year old boy – Julian sets off talking about something, then gets distracted by a tangent (usually amusing) before returning to the point he was originally making. It also shows the things that feel the most important when you are that age – whether or not you are the fastest runner in your postcode still and how much you hate Shakespeare, the sudden realisation that girls are somthing other than yucky and how easy it is to get led astray by other people.
The story was fairly simple, the climax wasn’t anything too shocking or even surprising – you sort of know it is coming by Julian’s growing reluctance to write – but it was effective because of the emotions packed in.
The writing is very raw in that Julian holds little back, he is honest about himself and his friends and this adds to the pace of the book. I raced through it, feeling like I was listening to his thoughts rather than reading his diary (which it is of a sort).
I loved the interaction between the characters and you could tell that it is at least loosely based on the author’s own childhood simply because of the vibrancy and roundedness of the characters and locations. It was easy to lose yourself in it and really sense the atmosphere and settings of the story.
It was a quick read and one that I enjoyed as an adult probably as much as I would have if I had read it when I was closer to Julian’s age.
My Rating: 5/5*