Reviews for Twerp
Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2013 #5
Twelve-year-old Julian Twerski didn't mean for "soft in the head" Danley Dimmel to get hurt. He doesn't deny he was there when it happened, but it wasn't one hundred percent his fault, and maybe he could have stopped it. But now that Julian and his gang have served their week's suspension from school, Julian's English teacher, Mr. Selkirk, wants him to write about it. Exactly what happened is the elephant in the room for the rest of the novel (set in 1960s Queens, New York), as Julian does indeed write -- nine composition notebooks' worth -- about everything but Danley Dimmel. Julian tells of how he killed a pigeon and how sad he was, how he caused a car accident, how his friend Quentin burned off his eyebrows, how he was buddied up with Beverly Segal on a field trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and how awkward it was walking past nude statues with a girl. Through the compositions, readers get to know Julian, as he comes to know himself, and though he claims to persist with the writing to get out of a book report on Julius Caesar, Julian ironically finds the meaning of life in Shakespeare. He may be a "quintessence of dust" like Hamlet, he says, but he's "a quintessence of dust with a date for Friday night." Goldblatt's debut novel for young readers is funny, poignant, and an effective commentary on bullying and its consequences and on knowing right from wrong. dean schneider Copyright 2013 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.
School Library Journal Reviews 2013 July
Gr 6-8--After participating in an act of horrendous bullying, Julian is given the opportunity to atone for his action and lighten his punishment by writing a book throughout the year. What starts as meandering thoughts and stories about him hitting pigeons and chasing cars evolves into a story of self-realization. The bulk of it is given over to a tangled love triangle. When Lonnie asks Julian, a better writer, to craft a love letter from him to new-girl Jillian and sign it anonymously, she believes the amorous intentions are Julian's. The result leaves bitter feelings between two former best friends. As the story unfolds, Julian comes to identify what he feels is right, not just what his best friend tells him is so. This honest portrayal of 12-year-olds' lives does not gloss over the stupid, hurtful things people do to one another before their moral compasses become fully calibrated. Julian is different from his friends, as he is told throughout the book, but he doesn't see it until the end. In the denouement, he finally stands up and tries to make what he has done right. Not all readers will identify with the sometimes-despicable things the protagonist does, but those who identified with the antihero in Jeff Kinney's "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" (Abrams) but have matured beyond the scope and gravity of that series will find a kindred spirit in Julian.--Devin Burritt, Wells Public Library, ME [Page 80]. (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.