51. “The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin,” Josh Berk

Will, a fat, deaf guy entering a mainstream school for the first time, struggles to navigate the shark tank that is high school. Along the way, he befriends a fellow nerd to solve a Hardy Boys-style mystery– who killed the jerky jock on a class field trip?

This book was funny, witty, and wry. Will’s being deaf was always treated as an important part of who he is, but not like something earth-shattering or novel (at least not by Will the story– jerks will be jerks). The story line was pretty unlikely (two high schoolers solving a crime the FBI was having trouble with– despite having access to the same information the FBI had? But Will and his friends seemed real and likeable and it’s so cool to read a book from a deaf person’s perspective where he’s a normal, relateable, secretly cool guy and not a sad, damaged, magical freak. He and Oscar Wao would get along pretty well, I think.

My only big disappointment was in the Acknowledgment, where Berk used the word “lame.” Throughout the book (and the couple of interviews I read, including here), he seemed, for lack of a better word, really down, but that was a bummer.

I know there’s always controversy about non-disabled people telling disabled people’s stories (and also, about calling Deaf people disabled), but Berk really seems to have done his homework and come up with a realistic, respectful, funny representation.

Page count: 250
Page total: 14,376
Call number: YA Fic Berk / PZ7.b442295Dar

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