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Stuff for the Teen Age

Teen Summer Reading Spotlight: "The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin" by Josh Berk

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If a tree falls in the forest and nobody hears it, does it still make a sound? If somebody insults Will Halpin and he isn’t reading that person’s lips, does it still count as an insult?

In The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin by Josh Berk, Will Halpin knows that he doesn’t fit into his new school. Transferring out of an all-deaf school and into a mainstream one has definitely been a difficult transition. He knows that his deafness makes him an outsider, as well as his tendency to stare at people so that he can understand what they’re saying. And he knows that some of the kids at his new school are jerks, and that some of those kids say mean things about him. Luckily, he can’t hear them when they do.

Will lives primarily in the world that’s inside his own head. He watches what’s going on, he reads lips, and he writes out his thoughts in his notebook. He checks his email and his IMs, talks to his family a little, eats a lot, and hangs out in his room. Eventually, Will becomes friends with a boy named Devon (another social outcast, but for different reasons), and his world begins to expand.

A lot of different things happen in this book. Will learns that he's related to a man who was famous for a very unusual reason. Will and Devon discover that they have similar senses of humor. Will starts falling for a beautiful a girl from afar... and then again from close up. Oh, and there’s a murder, too. Or maybe it’s an accident? No, if one of the most popular boys in school suddenly falls to his death during a field trip to a coal mine, then that’s definitely a murder.

But even with all of those things going on in this book, the best parts of the story take place in Will’s head. Which, as it turns out, is a pretty weird, funny, and amazing place.

Be sure to visit summerreading.org to sign up for the summer reading club where you can keep track of the books you read during the summer, review the stuff you’re reading, create lists, earn badges, and design your own avatar! Check out the teen summer reading list for even more book recommendations that will make you laugh, make you think, and keep you on the edge of your seat.

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