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Book Reviews, Historical Fiction, Middle Grade Readers, Young Adult Readers

Twerp by Mark Goldblatt

TwerpI had high hopes for Twerp when I started it.  Unfortunately, for me, I didn’t feel it fulfilled its promise to the reader.  Julian Twerski is keeping a journal in order to avoid an assignment on Shakespeare.  He has just returned from a week-long suspension for his participation in an incident he studiously avoids revealing.  In offering him the trade-off on the Shakespeare assignment his English Teacher is hoping Julian will  really do some thinking about what caused that suspension.

I don’t think it is revealing anything or giving away the ending to say that the incident for which Julian was suspended dealt with bullying.  Julian may not have set out to traumatize another student, but allowed himself to participate in what he knew was wrong.  His teacher is hoping Julian will discover that in his journal-writing.

The Good:  characters are well-developed and completely genuine and the plot is skillfully arranged to flow easily from one event to the next.

The Bad:  Although Julian may be able to gain insight into his own feelings, he does not seem to gain any insight into his motivations.

There is nothing in his assessment of the “friends” with whom he surrounds himself that indicates he would make a different choice in the future.  In my opinion, this is what is missing from the story.  I wasn’t necessarily looking for some profound revelation, but I was expecting more personal growth from the main character.  I am disappointed in the ending; I feel it was a cop-out.  The way in which the plot is resolved shapes the book into a collection of childhood anecdotes rather than a story arc with a real progression.

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