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13: A Novel by Jason Robert Brown

13: A Novel

by Jason Robert Brown

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[review written 2011]

So this book was really cool. 13 by Jason Robert Brown and Dan Elish is based off the musical, and written by the same writers of the musical. I found it disappointing it had basically the same plot as the musical–I would have liked to see Evan’s life in Indiana or New York, but if you listen to the soundtrack and can read fast, it’s great, because you hit the songs roughly the same time as you hit the plot in the book.

But 13 was a very enjoyable book nonetheless. The portrayal of the “popular kids” and the “unpopular kids” are spot on from what I find in my middle school (hence, the reason I don’t like going to school every day). Evan was a very relatable character, and it was funny. Archie annoyed me a lot. ( )
  jwmchen | Nov 4, 2017 |
I am getting ready to take my three kids to see this musical. They are 14,13, and 11. The 11 year old perfoms in a lot of community theater here in town and has some friends in this production. I hadn't heard of this previously so I researched it a little online and thought it sounded cute. Then we saw it at the bookstore the other day. I decided to buy it and we all could read it to prepare for seeing the show. The book is cute. Its the story of a 13 year old Jewish New York kid who knows his place in this world. Suddenly its uprooted when his parents get divorced and he must leave his friends and prospective new girlfriend to move to a stick town in Indiana. To make matters worse yet, Evan must plan his Bar Mitsvah in a place where he has no friends. Well that just has to change and Evan attempts to do ANYTHING to get popular friends and have them come to his party. What entails is a funny, sad, and then satisfying tale of a boy becoming a man...as much of one as can be when you are 13. Glaringly missing, by the very nature of this being a book, is the musical numbers. To that end, it felt incomplete...like something was just not there. I think I would have felt this way even if I didn't know it was a musical and should have had songs inserted. The book did its job though and made me very interested to see the show. ( )
  pacey1927 | Jul 28, 2010 |
PLOT SUMMARY: This is the story of 12 (soon to be 13) year-old Evan Goldman. Evan is a typical upper-middle-class, NYC Jewish kid. He's popular, likes his school and is is preparing for his Bar Mitzvah. Then Evan gets an awful piece of news. He learns that his father has taken up with a young, blond flight attendant, and his parents are getting divorced. Evan's mom is hurt and angry. In an effort to exact revenge (and get as much distance as possible between herself and the cheating dad), she decides that she and Evan will move to the rural town of Appleton, Indiana to live with her best friend from college. What follows for Evan is a shock immersion in rural life, football worship, unlikely friends, and an education in what really matters. This book features some unlikely heroes and heroines - including a brainy girl with a love of books and old movies, an obnoxious but vunerable guy with a disabiltiy, and a beautiful cheerleader. It also features contemporary Jewish culture and characters, a real rarity in children's literature (which is full of Holocaust and immigrant stories).

MY TAKE: I enjoyed this novel. It made me laugh and cry, and it made me think. I cared about the characters, and there are some truly suspenseful and emotional moments. I appreciate how Evan's character evolves and matures. Since I grew up in a small, rural town, though, I'm a bit iffy on the authors' portrayal of Brett, the junior high quarterback, as the town hero. Everyone knows that high school football rules small towns, and junior high kids don't get adoration until they're in high school. This book leads you to believe that the junior high kids rule the town, which is very unrealistic.

WHO WOULD LIKE THIS BOOK: This is a book for boys and girls ages 11 and up who like humor and realistic fiction. I say 11 and up, by the way, because of the boys' all-consuming and frequently mentioned interest in making out and "getting tongue."

INTERESTING FACT: 13 is also a musical!

FAVORITE QUOTE: (Pages 194-195)"Looking out at the crowd, my eyes lingered on the 10 empty spaces at Patrice and her Dad's table. And I never would have dreamed that I'd think this, but what went through my head at that moment was: I never needed those kids in the first place, and I'm glad they're not here." ( )
  schosha | Dec 21, 2009 |
13 is about Evan. His parents just got divorced. His dad left his mom for a younger woman. Now, three months before his 13th birthday, he has moved with his mom from New York to Appleton, Indiana. Evan's mom wants him to have his bar mitzvah there and it is Evan's goal to have everyone from his new school come to it.

This was an all right book. I won't be buying it any time soon but maybe eventually will. The book dragged on at places and a lot of the situations seemed unrealistic. However, at times, I found myself laughing out loud or getting a little teary eyed. I would love to see the Broadway musical of this book, it seems like it may be more enjoyable than the actual book. ( )
  KatieZodrow | Oct 27, 2009 |
Reviewed by Tasha for TeensReadToo.com

In three months, Evan will be thirteen. He is already planning his Bar Mitzvah when he learns his mom and dad are splitting up and he's moving to the middle of nowhere -- Appleton, Indiana. On top of leaving NYC and his friends, Evan now has to plan his Bar Mitzvah in Indiana. He knows no one will show up and is horrified to find out that it will take place in the basement of the Methodist Church.

Even though Evan expects his life to be miserable, he soon befriends Patrice, a pretty girl who loves old movies and is a little bit of a geek. Evan never has a problem with her until he becomes friends with Bret. Bret is an All-American boy. He's the junior high's quarterback and is loved by all the girls and their parents, too, for that matter. As Evan becomes more involved with Brett and his gang of friends, he starts to lose sight of how friends are really supposed to treat each other.

As the weeks go by, Evan gets tangled up with planning his "becoming a man" speech, more drama than he can handle, and a particularly weird situation which involves the movie The Bloodmaster. Evan soon learns that being a man isn't all it's cracked up to be and ends up learning more about himself then he ever thought possible.

I was quite pleased with this book. I don't always enjoy middle-grade fiction because I find it hard to relate to, but I can vividly remember being thirteen. The authors made an unforgettable character out of Evan that made me laugh-out-loud and reminisce about days when I was his age. I remember going through similar situations as Evan did and handling them just about as well as Evan did! Just the style of writing and the words that came out of the character's mouths were funny.

While middle-grade novels may not be your first choice, I highly suggest you pick this one up and laugh along with the story. This book would also be good for reluctant readers. It's not particularly long, yet it is long enough to be a wholesome story. The message of self discovery and being your own kind of person is also a great part of this book. 13 was an enjoyable read that will keep readers wanting more. ( )
  GeniusJen | Oct 9, 2009 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 006078749X, Hardcover)

13 Things to Know About 13

1. This book is about a guy named Evan.

2. Three months before his 13th birthday, he has to move from New York City 3. to Appleton, Indiana,

4. where nobody knows him.

5. He's not very happy about it.

6. His mom is kind of nuts.

7. His dad is kind of nuts too.

8. Evan's not nuts, but he keeps ending up in nutty situations.

9. One of them involves a movie called The Bloodmaster.

10. Another involves a girl named Patrice.

11. But the nuttiest situation of all is his bar mitzvah—

12. which it's possible no one will come to.

13. Unless Evan can make some new friends really fast.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:43 -0400)

Almost thirteen-year-old Evan Goldman learns what it means to be a man when his parents separate and he and his mother move from New York City to Appleton, Indiana, right before his bar mitzvah.

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