I read almost every genre & I enjoy venturing into unfamiliar territory. As a library volunteer, I'm constantly bringing home novels. Being a substitute teacher, I read lots of YA & children's books.
This novel is not complicated, the story is not deep but the issue that it touches on, is huge. Joe knows what it is like to attend Albert Einstein Elementary School but Ravi is new and from the minute that he walks into the fifth grade classroom, Dillon and his buddies have their eyes set on him. Joe has been bullied by Dillon and his boys and now Ravi is the target. An intelligent, gifted student from India, Ravi believes that his new American peers will be impressed with his superiority. I had to laugh a few times as Ravi internally builds with excitement; he visually imagines how his peers will react as he perfectly performs his school work in front of them. When able to execute this school work for them, what he imaged would occur and what actually occurs does not always match leaving Ravi dealing with some difficult emotions. I thought one of the funniest things about this novel was the fact that Ravi wanted Dillon’s attention and he wanted to be friends with him. He didn’t realize what type of person Dillon was. He tries so hard to be in Dillon’s range of sight and it isn’t until later that he realizes that maybe he should be doing something else. Joe on the other hand, was quiet and was keeping his distance from Dillon and was glad that Ravi was the fresh meat in the classroom. I was angry at the teacher for she had to have known what type of person Dillon was, for he had this personality last year. Her classroom begins to get lively and I wanted her to get involved in what was occurring. I didn’t expect her to point fingers but she had to notice, didn’t she? I knew what I wanted the characters to do but they each had their own agenda. Ravi’s past comes into play as he navigates around his new peers and tries to find where to fit in. Joe has been under Dillon’s radar and knows everything about Dillon, can the two boys help each other?
I liked the way that the novel wasn’t complicated. It wasn’t filled with other stories or lives of people who didn’t matter; it dealt with the individuals whose lives were being affected. It’s an easy read and it’s fast and straight to the point. I believe that many upper elementary and middle school student will enjoy this novel for its plot and for its structure.