"It's one of those unexpected gift moments, like looking up and finding a mirror right in front of you, and instead of food in your teeth or a booger hanging from your nose, it's really you, and you like what you see." - 8th Grade SuperZero, p. 87
I do find it's kind of hard to write a book review if you keep rereading the book.
I've already told the story of The Book-Snatching Auntie, and am still snickering at my poor Auntie G., who was so embarrassed at "borrowing" a book from me, forgetting I hadn't finished it, and giving it away -- but I fully and thoroughly understand now why she started passing it around. Olugbemisola Perkovich's writing is that good.
Eighth Grade was the first year that I got into politics -- in my school, we had a recall of our class president. (THAT didn't go over well with the faculty.) At Clarke Junior School where Reggie McKnight attends, the election hasn't happened yet, but the candidates are getting ready to rumble - or in Vicky Ross's case, getting ready to yap. Endlessly.
Reggie wanted to be different this year. He was ready to step out from the pack, to show his classmates the Night Man graphic novels he's been working on since kindergarten, and let them know how cool he could be. He would have given it a shot, if it weren't for the fact that on the first day of school, right on stage, he lost his breakfast -- and gained a nickname. The whole school, practically, calls him Pukey, thanks to Donovan Greene, the ex-friend who makes Reggie's life miserable. Donovan's the king of the put-down, passing out names like "Acid Face" to the girl who has acne craters on her skin, and even hassling Kindergarten boys about their Dora the Explorer shoes. Donovan's a bully whose nicknames have sticking power, and he's buddied up with Justin Walker, the most popular boy at Clarke, who is also running for class president.
Reggie's sick of the way things are at school, but getting involved in Vicky's campaign was the worst mistake he's ever made. On top of that, life isn't exactly copacetic at home, either. Ever since Pop got laid off, he's spending more time looking at what Reggie does -- and constantly telling him he could do better. Reggie's older sister, Monica, is just plain EVIL, and his Mom is always stressed and exhausted and leaving him notes about cleaning his room. When a youth group service project brings Reggie face to face with homelessness at the Olive Branch Shelter, Reggie wonders why things just suck so much. Why isn't here ever any change? Why are there wars and homelessness, and people like Donovan, making everyone worse? Why doesn't God just fix it?
What's the answer? Youth leader, Dave, doesn't tell people how to think - it's up to Reggie to find answers on his own.
With his redoubtable sidekick, Ruthie, spouting social justice wisdom from her New World Order Collective, and his boy, Joe "C" Castiglione stringing together his old-school hip-hop beats, "Jamerican" 8th grader, Reggie takes his first shaky steps on a quest for a world that makes sense. With a lot of humor and insight and in a seriously no-saccharine voice, Perkovich's debut novel strikes gold on a lot of levels, shining out with some home truths about faith, identity and friendship.
I really try hard not to gush about books anymore. After all, I'm a pseudo-professional writer now, right? Authors are my contemporaries. My peeps. I do not have to be in awe anymore.
Yeah, right, whatever. This book blew me away, and I'm excited to share this author's work. But, don't take my word for it -- check out more reviews from YA Books Central, and The Reading Zone.
This book has the Aunt Gertie Snatched Seal of Approval, and you can buy a copy of 8th Grade SuperZero from an independent bookstore near you!