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Bucking the Sarge by Christopher Paul Curtis

Bucking the Sarge

by Christopher Paul Curtis

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Booktalk: The town of Flint, Michigan, is a lot like the Titanic: a sinking ship with no way out. At least that's how Luther's best friend Sparky describes it. But 15-year-old Luther and Sparky are hoping to find a way out some day. Sparky plans to get out by suing the pants off someone, like say, Taco Bell if one of their roof tiles blew off and knocked him in the head. Luther's way out is through his college education fund, all $92,510 he's earned working for his mom, taking care of the male residents in her group home. His mom is so tough Luther calls her the Sarge. And it's true, her toughness has helped her become the successful woman she is today. Luther can respect that even if he doesn't agree with all of her life philosophies. But maybe it's possible to be TOO tough. When the Sarge comes down on Luther way too hard, he may have just found his way off the Titanic as he hatches a vengeful plan for BUCKING THE SARGE.
  Salsabrarian | Feb 2, 2016 |
A little bit over the top for me, but I bet there are tons of middle school guys out there that will love it, especially the scenes where they try and capture the rats. ( )
  susan259 | Jan 20, 2016 |
Curtis, Christopher Paul. Bucking the Sarge. 2004. 259 pp. $6.99. Wendy Lamb. 385-32307-7. Ages 13 & Up.
Luther T. Farrell is different from a lot of teens in Flint, Michigan. For starters, he is working on his third first place medal in the High School science fair, hoping to beat his crush Shayla yet again. He also has a drivers license that says he’s eighteen, and he gets to drive and $80,000 van. But the biggest difference in Luther T. Farrell’s life is his mother, or the Sarge, who expects Luther to work full-time running her men’s group home and helping out with her other nefarious business interests in exchange for contributions to his education fund - which Luther figures should have at least $90,000 for him to put to use to his education to become the world’s most famous philosopher. As much as the Sarge wants him to take over her business, Luther can’t bring himself to kick out tenants or condone the exorbitant interest rates on her “friendly neighbor loans.” When Luther betrays the Sarge’s business interests, it becomes Luther’s turn to take control of his life and buck the Sarge’s expectations - if he can escape alive. A vivid portrait of life in a city gripped by poverty and exploitation. Curtis brings a refreshing and unique voice of an African American teen who is highly intelligent, hardworking, and attuned to the immorality of the world he is trapped in. Reader’s will cheer for this underdog as he finally gains the courage to outwit his dictatorial mother. Highly recommended. Ages 13 & Up. ( )
  alovett | Nov 20, 2014 |
I knew that Christopher Paul Curtis was one of my favorite historical fiction writers, but boy, he can hold his own with contemporary fiction. Luther T. Farrell has one of the freshest 15-year-old voices I've read in a long time, and the story of how he outsmarts his mom (the Sarge) is both hilarious and heart-rending. ( )
  KimJD | Apr 8, 2013 |
RGG: Curtis targets the young adult audience with this new novel, but unsuccessfully. Convoluted and boring. Some references to male adolescent sexuality.
  rgruberexcel | Sep 2, 2012 |
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To Shakira Chantelle Wilson and Darnell Lee Wilson And to the memory of my dear Uncle Sterling June Sleet
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Book description
Luther T. Farrell is a skinny, six-foot-four student at Whittier Middle School. He is actually fifteen, even though his driver's license says eighteen. Sparky is his best friend and foil. Luther is a success with science fair projects but less so with love (as evidenced by the well-aged condom in his wallet that he's named Chauncey). He quietly longs for romance with Shayla, the pretty and smart undertaker's daughter whom he's known forever. He's also big on making lists.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0440413311, Mass Market Paperback)

Fifteen-year-old wannabe philosopher Luther T. Farrell knows a few things about life. He knows the Sarge (his rich, shrewd, slumlord mom) is tougher than nails and that he better not cross her. He knows his chances of using Chauncey, the ancient condom in his wallet, are slim to none. And, he knows that despite his goal to attend Harvard, he may end up stuck in Flint, Michigan, cleaning toilets in his mom's loathsome empire. Luther spends much of his time helping the Sarge run "Happy Neighbor Group Homes" around the city, including shaving and bathing elderly men and driving residents around with an illegal license. In spare moments he tries to win first place in the science fair at school and hang out with his best friend Sparky, all the while fantasizing mightily about his one true love, the beautiful Shayla.

Readers will be moved as Luther, a thoroughly decent if sometimes naive boy, rails against his mother's cold, ruthless notions of what it takes to get ahead in the world. Up-to-the-minute slang and pop culture references will resonate with teen readers, as will the funny, first-person narrative; crisp, often hilarious dialogue; and wonderfully vivid characters. Christopher Paul Curtis, winner of the Newbery Medal for Bud Not Buddy tells a warm, witty, heart wrenching story where the good guy gets his due. (Ages 12 and older) --Karin Snelson

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:38 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Deeply involved in his cold and manipulative mother's shady business dealings in Flint, Michigan, fourteen-year-old Luther keeps a sense of humor while running the Happy Neighbor Group Home For Men, all the while dreaming of going to college and becoming a philosopher.… (more)

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