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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

Now available in paperback, Newbery Medalist Jerry Spinelli's hilarious, poignant story of cocky seventh-grade superjock Crash Coogan.…


by Jerry Spinelli

Overall Book Review:

I’m probably not the first person to dislike the protagonist of this story from the beginning. He is a selfish, egotistical, immature bully, and he sees no reason to change that. It is a delight to watch him change and grow in spite of himself. The fact that he narrates his own story adds additional charm. Someone willing to be honest and open about all the things this boy did has to be either humble or completely unaware of what a horrible person he is. Crash is the former. He unapologetically relates his whole troubled history with Penn, keeping the reader in a bit of suspense–but not too much. 

The fact that there are no cliche mentors who come in and give sage advice to Crash makes his transformation more believeable and more touching. He thinks things through in his own all-boy way and comes to a different place without being sappy. It’s a fantastic book to read with young people (especially boys) and it’s likely they’ll take away a powerful message about true friendship, family, and empathy for others. A quick, heart-warming read!

Content Analysis:

Profanity/Language:  1 mild obscenity; 2 derogatory names.

Violence:  Characters fistfight, scuffle, and roughhouse; a character is pushed around and bullied; a character tackles an elderly person with no serious injury; a character slaps another character; a character tells a gory fictional story; characters participate in violent football plays with no serious injuries; a character kicks another character.

Mature Subject Matter:

Bullying; serious illness.

Alcohol / Drug Use:


Overall Book Rating

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About the Reviewer

I’ve been an avid reader for as long as I can remember. My mother would often find me curled up in a corner, avoiding chores with a book–or two. When I was growing up, there wasn’t a large selection of YA books. I had children’s books and adult literature to choose from. I’ve come to love YA fiction as an adult and read almost nothing else when I read for pleasure–any genre will do.