Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin by Josh Berk

Will Halpin is smart, articulate and hearing impaired -- he's also a heavy guy who doesn't quite fit in -- either in deaf culture or in the hearing world. Because his profound hearing loss was relatively late in onset, his language skills are quite high, and he doesn't feel a complete connection to deaf culture. On the other hand, he isn't quite accepted in the hearing world either.

Will has decided to leave the deaf school where he's always been educated and attend a mainstream high school, despite the inadequate accommodations offered there. This proves to be a struggle, but he is quickly befriended by Devon Smiley, another smart, nerdy outsider. Amid enduring insanity on the school bus, having casserole thrown at him by a bully, and being ignored by the prettiest girl in school, Will becomes intrigued by a local mystery, the legendary ghost of a man trapped and crushed in a coal mine.

Then a tragedy strikes, and Will and Devon find themselves trying to unravel a mystery. They're on the trail of a killer who may be linked to a political scandal surrounding a local citizen or might simply be a fellow student.

My daughter and fellow blogger, MovieBuff25, recommended this young adult novel to me, and I pretty much read it in one sitting. It offered virtually everything I like in YA novels, a smart, quirky protagonist with a distinctive voice, genuine adolescent struggles, humor, and a strong, well-told story. The murder mystery was icing on the cake. I really connected with the protagonist and was sorry when the book ended. The fact that this novel touched on the plight of men who spent their lives working in the coal mines also enriched the story.

I highly recommend this for readers age 13 and up.

Read More Reviews: Reading Junky's Reading Roost; The Book Nest; Alison's Book Marks; Bookish Blather; One Librarian's Book Reviews

Rating: 4.5

5- Cherished Favorite4 - Keep in My Library3 - Good Read2 - Meh1 - Definitely Not
For Me


  1. I love the sound of this YA novel. First a male protag, which is rare and a deaf one at that, even rarer. The coal mine aspect also adds depth to the story.

    1. If you decide to read this, I'd love to know what you think, Stephanie.

  2. I don't read a lot of YA, but when I do I look for all of the things you mentioned this book had, particularly smart, quirky protagonists with a voice. I am going to look for this one!

    1. If you read this, Kim, I hope you enjoy it. I'd love to read your review. :)


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