By Mark Goldblatt

3 ratings 3 reviews 5 followers
Interest LevelReading LevelReading A-ZATOSWord Count
Grades 4 - 7Grades 3 - 5n/a4.560928

It's not like I meant for him to get hurt. . . .

Julian Twerski isn't a bully. He's just made a big mistake. So when he returns to school after a weeklong suspension, his English teacher offers him a deal: if he keeps a journal and writes about the terrible incident that got him and his friends suspended, he can get out of writing a report on Shakespeare. Julian jumps at the chance. And so begins his account of life in sixth grade--blowing up homemade fireworks, writing a love letter for his best friend (with disastrous results), and worrying whether he's still the fastest kid in school. Lurking in the background, though, is the one story he can't bring himself to tell, the one story his teacher most wants to hear.

Inspired by Mark Goldblatt's own childhood growing up in 1960s Queens, Twerp shines with humor and heart. This remarkably powerful story will have readers laughing and crying right along with these flawed but unforgettable characters.


Publisher: Yearling
ISBN-13: 9780375971457
ISBN-10: 0375971459
Published on 5/13/2014
Binding: Paperback
Number of pages: 288

Book Reviews (3)

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The characters in this book set during the 60's were amazingly memorable. We first hear about the main one, Julian Twerski, a Jewish-American kid living in New York. An interesting fact about him: he is a good sprinter. Another fact: he writes well. This is evidenced by the book you are reading about, which, we are told, was originally put in 9 composition books. As he informs us early on, he's been forced to write something long, on account of the mysterious deed he did over winter break(hint: it involves eggs); so every week or so, he adds 20 pages or so to his diary/book thing, and soon we are left with more than 2-and-a-half hundred pages. So, what exactly does he do during half a year? Mostly, he hangs out with his friends, whose names, as he tells us, are Lonnie, Quentin, Shlomo Shlomo, Eric The Red, and Howie Wartnose. He encounters a major dilemma, however, when his closest friend, Lonnie, tells him to not only WRITE a love letter for him but also to DELIVER the love letter. This amorous message goes to a girl named Jillian Rifkin, who has moved in from "somewhere like Ohio." The problems start when Jillian gets the idea that it was Julian's love note(I mean, he wrote and delivered it, after all.) Then she starts getting interested in him, and stuff happens between him and Lonnie. Sure, other things happen as well, but that's the main one. What stood out to me, at first, was "Twerp"'s casual tone, which was simple and informal, with all the 60's slang in it. The next thing that stood out to me was how the 1960s atmosphere was subtly brought in, through the use of slang words such as "razz" and "yakking it up." Even some of the characters' attitudes towards girls and African Americans. Not only did it have a straightforward style and such, "Twerp" also drew me in because of the relatability of Julian. He's always trying to impress his friends, keep his promises, and is (understandably) concerned about not being the fastest kid at school. However, the book has its minor flaws. For instance, at the end everything goes wrong, then gets right again, and also Julian gets really sentimental: it's sort of cliche. Also, as the whole reason for writing this was the Egg Incident, it was disappointing how it only really got mentioned in detail at the end. It's supposed to be the dark cloud of guilt overshadowing everything, but aside from very brief mentions near the beginning, it just seems like an excuse for Julian to begin talking about other stuff that happens to him. Still, it's an interesting premise, it just could have been done better. It's still a memorable book, and that's why I would recommend it to those connoisseurs of historical fiction set in modern times, especially for those who've read "The Wednesday Wars" by Gary D. Schmidt (it's very similar).

Twerp is an account of Julian's normal, hilarious, year of sixth grade. The whole book leads up to the huge mistake that Julian made. By the time the mistake is written about you know Julian and his friends so well that it's hard to judge them for what they did. This book shows that there are always two sides to every story.

Sounds fun to read.