Author: Frank Portman
Pages: 344 p.
Publisher: Delacorte Press
I've read a lot about this book and most people seem to think that you have to either *love* it or *hate* it. I disagree. I didn't think it was the funniest thing I've ever read or the most interesting book in the world. I definitely had some problems with it. But it was entertaining and I enjoyed most of it.
Tom Henderson, aka Chi-Mo and King Dork and a bunch of other derogatory nicknames, is an introspective, witty, high school boy. He is tormented by bullies, both students and teachers, and has very few friends. His relationship with his best friend, Sam Hellerman, is based on the fact that their last names are in alphabetical order and thus they sat near each other in school. He and Sam are in a "band"--although all they have are band names (which change constantly) album names and song titles. They don't have actual instruments or rehearsals for much of the book. The band names are hilarious.
Most of the plot revolves around Tom finding his dead father's copy of Catcher in the Rye. From there he is embroiled in a mystery surrounding his father's death, a secret code and a funeral card. Somehow this mystery also ties in to Tom's current bullying teachers and miserable existance in high school.
I enjoyed most of the book. I thought Tom was funny. The conclusion was wrapped up too nicely--seemingly unrelated events fit together--but then Tom questions the conclusion and wonders if maybe there is none at all. It seemed to be a bit of a cop-out.
The major problem most people seem to have with the book is its portrayal of girls. While I do believe the girl social structure (with the Queen Bitch at top) is true, I do think the cavalier attitude the girls had toward oral sex was over the top. Granted, many people (especially young people) do not think of oral sex as sex, but these girls were just unbelievable with their willingness to perform this service.
Overall I was entertained and would recommend this book, but I would caution teens to seriously think about the girls' attitude toward oral sex.
On My Nightstand: