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Buddha Boy by Kathe Koja
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Buddha Boy (2003)

by Kathe Koja

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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» See also 4 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 16 (next | show all)
There's something to be said for a book that can be started and finished in one long car trip. For an old lady it is easy to remember all the cast and how they are related to each other. On the other hand it means the author really has to pack a lot into a few words.

Buddha Boy tells the story of Justin and his relationship with the new, strange kid at school, Jinsen. When Justin is paired with Jinsen for a class project, he tries to get away from the boy with the shaved head who begs in the school lunchroom. He watches in silence as the "cool" kids bully Jinsen, but the more Justin is around him, and the more he learns about his talents and his beliefs, the more Justin begins to question and push back on the way things are.

I got this book as part of the Sync giveaway on Audiobooksync.com. Given that the Sync program is geared toward kids in school, the story seemed written at the right level, but I felt it seemed a bit trite at times. Jinsen's backstory, while an interesting one, didn't seem to jive with his physical description throughout most of the book.

All that being said, however, I think the message of the book is a good one and I did find myself being challenged in the same way that Justin found his own beliefs challenged. So this is a book that is recommended with reservations. ( )
  spounds | May 16, 2016 |
A quick read (and listen) about a guy who was floating by in the social middle in high school who befriends a new kid, Ginsen, who is targeted by bullies because he is different. "Buddha Boy" has incredible talent as an artist and has a tough home life, but he has managed to get himself to a zen state of mind. Keeping to his promise of a peaceful, non-engagement existence with the bullies who try to torment him at every opportunity. The narrator has a much harder time seeing this treatment and moving himself from a bystander to a upstander. ( )
  ewyatt | Jul 27, 2015 |
The new boy in school is strange and a target for bullying by the in-crowd. Justin gets to know and admire him. As the new boy showcases his artistic talent, the bullying intensifies, becoming unbearable. ( )
  lilibrarian | Jul 20, 2015 |
Justin is enduring social pressure from his friends and his enemies at his rich, suburban high school, while still trying to maintain a relationship with his divorced parents by doing everything right. The problem is when you know that the “right” thing to do is also the “wrong” thing to do. Justin is faced with deciding whether to turn his back on his pals by befriending the odd kid at school who shaves his head, or join the cool crowd by making fun of the new boy who also happens to be a fantastic artist. Peer pressure and bullying are major themes of this story. Not only does Justin contend with issues of social justice in the high school arena, he is also exposed to weighty matters of poverty, death, and religion through the growing development of his hesitant friendship with Jinsen. Middle school readers and up will relate to the main character’s sometimes frustrating and challenging personal experiences, always questioning how they might act if they were in Justin’s shoes. Ultimately, this fast-paced tale of enlightenment will entertain readers with its varied cast of thought-provoking characters and true-to-life situations. ( )
  MzzColby | Oct 23, 2012 |
Buddha Boy has that feeling of hurtling towards disaster running along in the background of the whole thing. In the forefront, however, there is a great story about Jinsen and Justin. Jinsen seems not to care what anyone thinks of or does to him. Good thing, too, since he dresses, looks and acts odd, none of which gets him a bunch of friends. He practically invites kids to bully him when he starts to beg for lunch money in the cafeteria. Most of the kids do just that, either actively by throwing pennies or worse or passively by ignoring Jinsen altogether. Justin, instead, asks him why he's different.

The two boys have more in common than Justin had originally thought; they are both artists. Koja's use of language, especially when describing the boys' artwork, is beautiful. You can really see the works of art that Justin and Jinsen are creating as you're reading. Stemming from that, the rest of the book is simply lyrical. The story, even though it is set in a contemporary high school and deals with some pointedly cruel bullying, has the far away feel of a fairytale. Justin tells this story and it somehow manages to feel like it's happening in the present tense and like it's already happened at the same time. Regardless of the subject matter, it's beautiful. When you add Jinsen's attitude and actions, and the way he affects and changes Justin, the whole thing is really breathtaking.

I only had one complaint, and it's not exactly a deal-breaker. During the course of Justin and Jinsen's growing friendship, Jinsen explains a few things about Buddhism, but mostly smiles and lets Justin figure things out for himself. Jinsen lives by example. This is great and fits well with his reaction to the bullying in the story, but I did wish every once in a while that Jinsen would give a straight answer to Justin's questions. There doesn't seem to be a lot of young adult fiction dealing with Buddhism, so it would have been nice for this one to be a bit more informative.

I loved Koja's writing. I probably would have loved it even if the story hadn't been great, it was that good. Luckily, the story lived up to the writing and both worked together to create a magnificent finished product.

Book source: Philly Free Library
  lawral | Nov 27, 2010 |
Showing 1-5 of 16 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (5 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Kathe Kojaprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Murphy, SpencerNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Book description
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0142402095, Paperback)

The kids at school call Jinsen ?Buddha Boy??he wears oversize tie-dyed dragon T- shirts, shaves his head, and always seems to be smiling. He?s clearly a freak. Then Justin is paired with him for a class project. As he gets to know Jinsen and his incredible artistic talent, Justin questions his own beliefs. But being friends with Buddha Boy isn?t simple, especially when Justin realizes that he?s going to have to take sides. What matters more: the high school social order or getting to know someone extraordinary?

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:51 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Justin spends time with Jinsen, the unusual and artistic new student whom the school bullies torment and call Buddha Boy, and ends up making choices that impact Jinsen, himself, and the entire school.

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