Will Halpin is taking a serious leap — from a deaf school to a “mainstream” school. Because of his excellent lipreading skills, as well as his detestation for his hearing aids, Will lives in a silent world. This does NOT make it easy to fit into a gossip-filled, loud and chaotic high school. It also doesn’t help that he’s, uh, hefty. Plumpish. Big-boned.
But he does it. He goes to class and is more than a little bit observant of his peers — his snarky and sometimes hilarious notebook slowly begins to fill with his thoughts on his new teachers and classmates. Despite his hesitation with people, Will cannot avoid a new friend who will soon be his partner as they investigate a crime involving a student at their school.
Will is a pretty hysterical and self-depreciating narrator. It’s a lively place inside his head and I really liked all the text conversations between him and his friend Smiley. I enjoyed watching him sort out his world, and it was interesting to be in situations where we don’t know what’s happening because Will doesn’t — I liked reading the experiences of a deaf character. One other thing that made this book intriguing was the coal-mining secondary plot, since this book takes place in the hills of Pennsylvania.
Overall, this book was fun to read, but I’ll be honest: the whole “crime” thing caught me off guard and was hard for me to believe. It made the book take such a different turn, and while I liked having Will’s deafness be an asset to solving a crime, I just never really believed it. What I did believe, though, was that Will is an unlikely hero a lot of teens will relate to as an outsider with big dreams.
Rated: Moderate for a lot of mild/moderate language and sex-related discussions.