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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Is friendship between a math nerd and an athlete even possible?

Hasak-Lowy, Todd (2013) 33 Minutes until Morgan Sturtz Kicks my Butt.  New York: Aladdin..

Opening lines:  11:41 AM "Think about this:  Had the British not won the French and Indian War," Mr Griegs says, "We'd all be speaking French right now."
Fact: I am in Social Studies.
My hand goes up.  I'm not sure I want my hand to be up, but too late.  It's up.

Sam Lewis is a seventh-grader.  A year ago, he and his best friend Morgan were an inseparable video-game playing team.  In spite of the fact that Sam was on the Math team and liked to do physics experiments for fun, and Morgan is more of an athlete, their friendship was strong.   Since then, things have gone downhill.  Chris, a new kid, showed up.  At first it was like the three musketeers, but gradually Chris and Morgan's friendship strengthened and Sam and Morgan's friendship waned.  But how is it that Sam now finds himself in a position where an accidental slip caused Morgan to think that Sam insulted him (which Sam kind of did, but he didn't mean it) and now everyone in school has heard that at the end of the day, Morgan is going to kick Sam's butt.  Sam's um,.. friend Amy thinks Sam should talk to Morgan and work things out, but Sam is reluctant.  On the other hand, the end of the school day is coming soon. What is going to happen.

This book is not the greatest middle school novel ever, but it isn't bad.  Sam is in a position that many middle school kids find themselves in.  He is struggling to figure out how this whole social life thing works, and finds that every time he thinks he understands social dynamics, he is wrong.  It is easy to root for Sam. His self-deprecating humor makes him a very sympathetic narrator, and the relationship between him and Amy is a developing middle school relationship that stays full of romantic tension without going anywhere.

The book jacket blurbs tell me that it is laugh-out-loud funny, and maybe it is, but the story his a little close to home for me, and I found it hard to laugh at Sam, even in the midst of a food fight.  My guess, though, is that most middle school kids will not have the problem I did and will find the story quite funny at times.  And I did enjoy the ending very much.

This book is ideal for middle school -- though it may not have enough action for some middle school boys and may not have enough romance for some middle school girls.  This book would be a nice one to round out a middle school classroom library nonetheless.  It could be a pretty good read-aloud book.  I don't see it working for a class to study.  It has some themes, but they don't run too deep.

I found nothing here that I thought would prompt parents to object (though I have been surprised before).

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