Twerp by Mark Goldblatt
So, I quite enjoyed this book! Twerp is a story written by a boy called Julian for a sixth grade writing assignment. At the start of the book, he tells the reader that he did something that he got suspended for, and that if he wrote what he did he would get out of the Shakespeare assignment. But instead of talking about his actions, Julian talks about everything else about his life, avoiding everything and anything to do with what he got in trouble for. Amongst these things are the girl he started having a crush for, fears about being the second-fastest runner in Ps. 23 instead of the first, and dynamics between friends.
What I loved most about this book was that Mark Goldblatt made Julian a bully. There’s no use denying it: If I ever met him, I wouldn’t even talk to him because he is friends with Lonnie, a kid who picks on others. Julian says many times that people don’t like Lonnie, but that if you get to know him what he does is just what’s necessary. Julian is his accomplice since they are inseparable friends, and he never questions the morality of Lonnie’s ideas.
When you get inside a bully’s head, in their mind they are not bullies, but victims of circumstances which forced them to pick on others. For a large part of the book, Julian recounts things he did with Lonnie that I’d regard as bullying, but he considers normal, underestimates how much he hurt the other person, or just doesn’t realize how grave his actions were. I liked it, because we don’t always consider that bullies are people too, with their human problems and dreams and complications. Maybe picking on others is just a way to make them feel satisfied of themselves or fear of being judged by their friends. I’m not excusing Julian’s actions, but I do understand him. In the end, he finally talks about what got him suspended and how he tried to reverse the effect that his actions caused, and this is admirable.
What I didn’t like is that it didn’t give me many emotions. I mean, I like crying and laughing and getting all sappy romantic or putting down the book because I’m just so scared but I couldn’t do that with this book. I don’t know if its just because it is technically MG and the writing voice (even though great) didn’t really resonate with me, but I wasn’t as invested in the story as I could’ve been.
Still, I highly recommend this book because it is an ‘inside look’ into the grey area between right and wrong.