Sunday, February 6, 2011
Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin Review
Book Talk: After Will leaves his deaf school for a mainstream one, he has plenty of trouble just trying to fit in. So he stays on the sidelines, lip-reading from afar to see what the cool kids are talking about and writing it down with his own snarky commentary in a notebook. But a whole new level of trouble is unleashed when one of his classmates dies on a field trip. Was it a jealous friend? A jilted lover? A hired hitman? Suddenly, Will's notes and lip-reading abilities become valuable assets in his investigation. Will and his new friend are a far cry from the Hardy boys, but together they just may be able to find the killer--if they don't get themselves killed first.
Rocks My Socks: The author clearly did his research for this book, and I really appreciated it. From the politics of Deaf culture that I remember learning about in ASL class to Will's reflections on what the mechanics of certain signs remind him of. I also really loved Will as a character and it's easy to empathize with his outsider perspective and appreciate his snarky take on the conversations of the cool kids. The Hardy boys references were amusing to me as well, even though I haven't read any Hardy boys books.
Rocks In My Socks: The characters other than Will aren't particularly well developed, and even Will doesn't make much of a change from the beginning to the end of the novel. The novel also suffers from Useless Adult Syndrome with most of the adult characters either actively harming the kids in the book or indirectly doing so through indifference or ignorance.
Every Book Its Reader: I'd give it to grades 7 and up who appreciate a sarcastic sense of humor. Fans of the Hardy Boys who have grown up and are looking for something a bit darker will enjoy this novel.
The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin by Josh Berk; Knopf, 2010
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