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The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin by Josh…
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The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin

by Josh Berk

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» See also 4 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
Outsider kid goes to a new school, reluctantly makes friends with another outsider kid, gets picked on by popular kids, popular kid dies on a field trip, outsider kids solve the mystery Hardy-Boys Style. New spin: outsider status is bestowed on the original kid due to deafness (his friend is just a dork).

I liked it okay, though I don't totally get all the stars it's racking up from various review journals. I think what's bothering me most is the number of fat jokes. Will's weight has very little to do with the story (seems like an extra thing to throw in just to clinch the "outsider" status), but he constantly makes cracks about it despite it not being an important part of his character development at all.

I'd read more from this author, but this isn't one of my favorites of recent reads. ( )
  librarybrandy | Mar 31, 2013 |
Sometimes I wonder what it's like to be a guy. I figure Nick Hornby is pretty authoritative on the subject of adult guys, so I look to him for insight. Then I discovered Jeff Kinney's Wimpy Kid series, so now I have a pretty good idea what it's like to be a 12-year-old boy.

When I heard my husband cracking up, literally bringing himself to tears he was laughing so hard, I checked out what he was reading. It was then I knew that Josh Berk was going to be my key to the mind of the teenage boy.

The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin is funny, sweet, funny, a little snarky, and oh-so-very-funny. There's mystery, great dialogue, capering, and so much fun.

I was lucky enough to read an advance copy of this book, so everyone else is going to have to be patient, but boy is it worth the wait. My 14 and 12 year old nephews are going to adore this book, I just know it. So will you.

( )
  periwinklejane | Mar 29, 2013 |
Will “Hamburger” Halpin has made a difficult choice to leave the deaf school, where he had friends and understood everything, to go to the local public school, where teachers can’t communicate effectively, and he is bullied by everyone from the quarterback to the calculus teacher. Still, he’s determined to learn to navigate the world of the hearing, especially after he finally makes a friend: the only kid lower on the social totem pole than himself. Still, Devon Smiley is an engaging guy, and he even tries to learn sign language. Reluctantly, Will begins making a friend.

Then a field trip to a local coal mine has disastrous results: the most popular kid in school, Pat Chambers, is pushed to his death, and no one knows who the pusher is. Will and Devon team up, and with the help of Will’s ex-girlfriend, Ebony, try to find the murderer. Is it Leigha Pennington, class beauty and Will’s hopeless crush? Or perhaps Jimmy Porkrinds, the terminally stoned bus driver? Or maybe Miss Prefontaine, the well-endowed calculus teacher, who is rumored to have been a little too concerned about Pat Chambers’s academic success. In working to solve the mystery, Will stumbles onto an ancestor who seems a little to identical to him to be real--another deaf Will Halpin. Is it a crazy coincidence, or something more?

Told with wit and biting sardonicism, The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin will keep kids reading. The point of view is novel, and although Berk himself isn’t deaf, he clearly worked to learn about deaf culture. Will and Devon are engaging characters, with Will as a sarcastic but big-hearted loner and Devon as a overly enthusiastic dork. Unfortunately, these two are the only fully-drawn characters; the rest are little more than cardboard cutouts. Will’s parents, especially, are little more than “distant parent” caricatures, which makes it hard to care about Will’s relationship with them, or the inevitable reconciliation.

Additionally, although this book is meant as a satire, there are some pretty heavy issues sprinkled throughout: teenage pregnancy, illicit liaisons between teachers and students, and parental abuse are all part of the landscape, but the book seems stuck in kind of an in-between. Either Berk needed to treat the subjects a little more seriously, or he needed to go further and really make them ridiculous (probably rendering this a book for adults, not teens). As it is, you think you’re reading a funny book and then blam, a teen girl is pregnant and being pressured to have an abortion, and then the story moves on. It’s disconcerting as an adult reader; I can only imagine that it would be confusing as a teen.

Still this is a valuable book for students because it provides them the opportunity to see the world from a different point of view, one that is too little used. I also appreciated that this book used the first-person present tense POV for a reason--sign language has no past tense, so it makes sense that Will would only use the present tense. I’ve grown weary that YA books have a seeming addiction to the first-person present tense, but here it actually enhances the story. It would be a great book for discussion for a lot of reasons, including the seemingly light treatment of weighty issues. Those weighty issues, however, make this book appropriate for middle to older teens; I wouldn’t recommend this to middle school kids.

For grades 10 and up. ( )
  ALelliott | Apr 7, 2012 |
The main character Will "Hamburger" Halpin is deaf and is mainstreaming into a "regular" high school, but he refuses to wear his hearing aids and relies on lipreading instead. The teachers seem oblivious to his presence and making friends and keeping up both prove difficult. There is one boy, Devon Smiley, who takes an interest and even learns some sign language to communicate with him, but Will is reluctant to team up with him as it is obvious that he, too, sits on the fringe of the high school social circle. Devon is persistent though, and eventually they become friends. The two of them team up to solve the mystery of popular high school jock Pat Chambers' mysterious death which occurs while on a field trip to visit a local Pennsylvania mine. The mystery isn't too deep, but the story of a deaf boy trying to become part of the mainstream in a hearing school is well-written. ( )
  kthielen | May 17, 2011 |
Funny story about an overweight deaf boy who leaves the safety of his school for the deaf to enter the local high school. ( )
  awriter7777 | Apr 5, 2011 |
Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
The mystery is not the strong suit here; it’s the goofiness of these two unexpected heroes and their take on high school that carries the novel.
added by khuggard | editBooklist, Cindy Dobrez
 
A coming-of-age mash-up of satire, realistic fiction, mystery, and ill-fated teen romance, The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin is a genre-bending breakthrough that teens are going to love.
added by khuggard | editSchool Library Journal, Jeffrey Hastings
 
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To Jack and Rita Berk for filling my life with laughter, love, and, books, books, books . . .
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It is a cool September morning.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0375856994, Hardcover)

Being a hefty, deaf newcomer almost makes Will Halpin the least popular guy at Coaler High. But when he befriends the only guy less popular than him, the dork-namic duo has the smarts and guts to figure out who knocked off the star quarterback. Will can’t hear what’s going on, but he’s a great observer. So, who did it? And why does that guy talk to his fingers? And will the beautiful girl ever notice him? (Okay, so Will’s interested in more than just murder . . .)

Those who prefer their heroes to be not-so-usual and with a side of wiseguy will gobble up this witty, geeks-rule debut.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:41:36 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

When Will Halpin transfers from his all-deaf school into a mainstream Pennsylvania high school, he faces discrimination and bullying, but still manages to solve a mystery surrounding the death of a popular football player in his class.

» see all 2 descriptions

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