Rated Reads

The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin

by Josh Berk

Rated: Moderate

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.

— Reviewed by Corinne Edwards

Corinne Edwards is always happiest when a book is in her hand. If her current read needs to be closed for a short time, either in her backpack while she leads her three rambunctious children on adventures, or on her nightstand while she sleeps, that's okay too. Her book thoughts and reviews land at her bookish blog, The Book Nest.

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  • The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin
  • by Josh Berk
  • Rated: Moderate
  • Genre: Young adult
  • Reviewer: