Julian Twerski isn’t a bully. He’s just made a big mistake. So when he returns to school after a weeklong suspension, his English teacher offers him a deal: if he keeps a journal and writes about the terrible incident that got him and his friends suspended, he can get out of writing a report on Shakespeare. Julian jumps at the chance. And so begins his account of life in sixth grade–blowing up homemade fireworks, writing a love letter for his best friend (with disastrous results), and worrying whether he’s still the fastest kid in school. Lurking in the background, though, is the one story he can’t bring himself to tell, the one story his teacher most wants to hear.
Inspired by Mark Goldblatt’s own childhood growing up in 1960s Queens, Twerp shines with humor and heart. This remarkably powerful story will have readers laughing and crying right along with these flawed but unforgettable characters.
First of all, I LOVED how this story took place in 1969 and was inspired by the author’s childhood experiences. My students and I enjoyed thinking about how the events from the story might have gone down differently if they had taken place today. the opening scene was intense and hooked me right away!
Peer pressure, following your moral compass, and standing up for what your gut tells you are all issues young kids faced then and face now. This is what makes the story so relatable to kids!
Mark Goldblatt recreates his childhood using characters from his past that are unique, flawed, and funny. The plot is extremely relatable to kids no matter what year the story takes place. Some things don’t change despite the times. The internal battle with right and wrong, peer pressure, a childhood crush, telling the truth, and running your fastest… these are things that survive the times. The generations to come will no doubt face the same challenges. I guess the important thing is how you react to the challenges in life that define who you really are. A highly enjoyable read!
Mark Goldblatt is a novelist, columnist and book reviewer as well as a college professor at Fashion Institute of Technology of the State University of New York.
His controversial first novel, Africa Speaks, a satire of black urban culture, was published in 2002 by The Permanent Press. His second novel, Sloth, a comedic take on postmodernism, was published in June 2010 by Greenpoint Press.
Goldblatt is perhaps best known as a political commentator. He has written hundreds of opinion pieces for a combination of the New York Post, the New York Times, USA Today, the Daily News, Newsday, National Review Online and the American Spectator Online. He has been a guest on the Catherine Crier Show on Court TV and done dozens of radio interviews for stations across the country and in England. His integrity has been called into question by the Village Voice – which should count for something.
Goldblatt’s book reviews have appeared in The Common Review, Commentary, Reason Magazine, and the Webzine Ducts. His academic articles have appeared in Philosophy Now, Academic Questions, Sewanee Theological Review, English Renaissance Prose, Issues in Developmental Education 1999, the Encyclopedia of Tudor England and the Dictionary of Literary Biography.