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Full Text Reviews:
Booklist - 12/15/2009 Will Halpin is the new kid at school. This is a tough situation even in the best of circumstances, but Will is also deaf, and his self-image isn’t great (he compares his body to a “sedentary manatee”). Having left a school for the deaf, Will survives at his first public school with a lot of lip-reading, texting, and the friendship of another social outcast, Devon Smiley. Together, the two students become a duo of misfit Hardy Boys who investigate the death of a classmate while on a field trip to the Happy Memory Coal Mine. The mystery is not the strong suit here; it’s the goofiness of these two unexpected heroes and their take on high school that carries the novel. The school bus, for instance, has “a directly rising slope of coolness from the front . . . to the back. . . . If you keep going, you’d fly out the back . . . and land in the cars belonging to the kids far too cool to ever set foot on a bus.” A humorous first novel from an author to watch. - Copyright 2009 Booklist.
School Library Journal - 01/01/2010 Gr 8 Up— Will Halpin has ditched his former "deaf school" and is now trying to merge into the auditory-able mainstream at Carbon High in eastern Pennsylvania. As the new, overweight kid who has to sit off to the side during classes so he can try to read the lips of both his teachers and his classmates, Will—no slouch when it comes to reading human reactions—quickly downsizes his social expectations and retreats back into the soundless cocoon of his own skull. Luckily for readers, it's darkly hilarious in there. That's this debut novel's most potent hook: the opportunity to spend some quality time inside the precociously perceptive and sardonically witty head of this ultimate outsider as he visually eavesdrops—and rips on—the sick subtleties of a typical high school's social order. What teens wouldn't want to have Will's skills as he, notebook in hand, monitors the school bus mirror and pieces together what all the cool kids are talking about? Most, Will discovers, as he deftly dissects personalities and devilishly deconstructs high school culture, are slavishly focused on being invited to an exclusive party being thrown by popular jock Pat. But when Pat dies during a field trip to a defunct coal mine, under suspicious circumstances, the story morphs into an engaging mystery as Will reluctantly accepts the unsettlingly friendly overtures of a quirky classmate bent on enlisting him as a partner in some amateur sleuthing. A coming-of-age mash-up of satire, realistic fiction, mystery, and ill-fated teen romance, The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin is a genre-bending breakthrough that teens are going to love.—Jeffrey Hastings, Highlander Way Middle School, Howell, MI - Copyright 2010 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Bulletin for the Center... - 03/01/2010 Hearing-impaired Will Halpin has made the momentous decision to leave the school for the deaf and enter the world of a public high school. He doesn’t exactly make a big splash in the social pool, but he does make a lot of very funny observations about his classmates, and he reluctantly acquires a geeky friend named Devon, who doesn’t seem to mind that Will’s deaf and overweight. He also discovers a bit of family history in his textbook: one of his ancestors was a deaf coal miner, who died in a local mining accident and supposedly haunts the Happy Memory Coal Mines. When a belligerent classmate is killed while on a field trip to the mines, Devon insists that he and Will go into Hardy Boys mode to figure out what happened. Between Will’s sharp wit and Devon’s kooky approach to just about everything, this is a thoroughly entertaining murder mystery. The triumph of the social outcasts blunts the pathos of the murder and its motive, keeping things light, and the unraveling of the family mystery introduces a nice twist to the compelling murder investigation. Will’s insights-some funny, some rueful and trenchant-as a deaf, happily large person are value-added to an already successful middle-school buddy/detective/school story. KC - Copyright 2010 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.