Thursday, April 25, 2013
By Mark Goldblatt
To be published by Random House (Children) on May 28th, 2013
Twerp starts quite slowly, in the form of a written task being completed by a sixth-grader named Julian Twerski.
Julian got into serious trouble at school and after being suspended for his unnamed misdeed, he was offered a deal by Mr Selkirk, one of his teachers. In return for writing a journal, especially about the incident which got him suspended, he could get out of the dreaded class assignment of writing a whole report about Shakespeare.
If there is one person on the whole planet whom Julian loathes and despises, it is Shakespeare, and he is delighted to have found a way of avoiding the task. We gradually learn more and more about Julian, his family, friends - especially his best friend Lonnie - his attendance at Hebrew shul in preparation for his Bar Mitzvah, what he thinks of school teachers, Shakespeare, his quite remarkable talent for running and his burgeoning love interest with Jillian.
Inexorably, we grow to care about him, to like him, to see why he thinks the way he does and slowly we learn the truth about the event which got him suspended from school and needing to write the journal in the first place, and we see Julian growing up before our eyes, realizing the enormity of what he did to Danley and how he manages to make amends.
Clever, touching, sad and satisfyingly resolved at the end, this a book which will resonate with youngsters and adults alike.