Friday, March 12, 2010
THE DARK DAYS OF HAMBURGER HALPIN by Josh Berk
Looking for a wacky adventure? Get your hands on a copy of THE DARK DAYS OF HAMBURGER HALPIN. I'll admit I was attracted by the title thinking it sounded like a "good time" read, and I wasn't disappointed.
Will Halpin is embarking on a new and sort of terrifying journey. Will is deaf and has spent his educational years attending a special school for the deaf. He has recently made the decision to enroll in public high school. In addition to his deafness, Will is a bit on the chunky side and not exactly up on the latest fashion trends, dating habits, and musical interests of mainstream high school teens.
Will does his best to understand his surroundings by lip-reading the words of his teachers and classmates. He meets a fellow misfit, Devon Smiley, who knows how to finger spell, and they strike up a friendship. Together, the two pass the time observing and commenting on the various oddities of their classmates and teachers. As outsiders, they watch as star football player, Pat Chambers, hands out coveted invitations to one of his special parties. Knowing neither of them has a chance of being invited, they watch in fascination to see which privileged few receive the limited invites.
The party takes a backseat in the action when the students go on a field trip to a nearby abandoned coal mine. Just as it looks like they'll be boarding the bus for the return trip to school, panic breaks out when it is reported that Pat Chambers has fallen down the mine shaft and is dead.
Will and Devon decide to take on the challenge of investigation the tragic accident, and they first thing they encounter is that it probably was no accident. What follows next involves computer hacking, researching the backgrounds and habits of various teachers and students, and stumbling across a number of shocking discoveries. Can a deaf kid and a Hardy Boys fan make sense of the clues and help the police solve the mystery?
THE DARK DAYS OF HAMBURGER HALPIN by Josh Berk features sarcastic humor and clever mystery elements as it reveals what it's like to try fitting in when you have a disability. Berk's characters creatively reflect high school stereotypes making them entertaining and easy to relate to. Overall, an enjoyable read and one many teens will be interested in check out.