This book is a really amazing gem. I enjoyed everything about it. I feel like this is a must read for all teens. The main reason why I love this book is that it had a unique perspective, with an extremely unlikely protagonist. This book will take you deep into the mind of a troubled bully. Even though he was a bully he still was on the honor roll, had perfect attendance, and got great grades. The voice of this book is just so strong and chilling. You really feel like you could know this kid. The characters were vast, interesting, and entirely developed.
The book follows Tod Munn, who is out of control and secretly brilliant. He lives in a rough town and is extremely poor. His parents are stressed and distant. Unfortunately, because money is tight he helps out his mom with her sewing and laundry business. They are literally living on a prayer. This stress is complete overwhelming young Tod. Although he has to keep those feelings buried. He stepfather Dick, who is aptly named, really dislikes Tod and they have several issues. He eats breakfast and lunch at school because there is never food on the table for him, This was really hard to get through, as someone who has really struggled with food at times this was very heartbreaking. I knew exactly how he felt and how much pain he was in.
He has two questionable best friends. They are called drugs, Rex and Rob are the secondary characters of this novel. There is also a boy named Bernie, although he really isn't involved in the story much. They are the tough guys and really lived up to their image, stealing, drinking, and getting ladies. He keeps a lot of secrets from them, things like his great grades and attendance.
The teachers in this book really pick on him and completely incompetent at times. He is thrown into detention, and it is carried out in a really interesting way. The school guidance counselor, Mrs. Woodrow, makes him keep a diary or journal of sorts. She believes he is innocent, and she wants him to prove it. They were caught doing something pretty bad, but you don't find out what until the end of his journal. The mystery and suspense is very nice. The other two bad boys are sentenced to clean up the outside of the school. This causes some tension with the group. The guidance counselor really gives Todd a come to Jesus experience.
Even though he really doesn't want to tell her any information, he ends up opening up a lot. He pours his heart out in a tragic honesty. I enjoyed the times that the guidance counselor would write back to him, and help him with spelling. But at this point, I figure I should tell you a major issue I have with this book. He writes quite detailed descriptions of things that should have gotten him removed from the home. I sort of feel like the guidance counselor really dropped the ball on that.
This was a serious page turner for me. I read it all in a day, I couldn't put it down. I had to know what happened next. This is a pretty big book at 200 pages so normally it would take me a few days to finish. I just got so caught up in the storyline, I felt like I was apart of the story, not just an outsider viewing it unfold. This book is an excellent example of what a first person novel should be. Tod's voice is quite memorable. It isn't a typical novel which may make some readers not enjoy this book. It also jumps from the past to present quite a lot.
I feel like a lot of teens will really connect with this book. The teen years can be quite tough, isolating, and rough. It can leave a teen feeling misunderstood and completely defeated. They also can feel abused or victimized by teachers and other staff. This book will show them that they aren't alone and that they aren't powerless after all.
Be sure to check out this book for yourself. It is funny, heartbreaking, deep, and extremely memorable. This will be a book that will make you want to take out your tissue box and will leave you with one of the best book hangovers.
I picked up this book at my local library, but will be purchasing it very soon! Surprisingly good. "read" via Audio book via Overdrive
Tod Munn is a bully. He’s tough, but times are even tougher. The wimps have stopped coughing up their lunch money. The administration is cracking down. Then to make things worse, Tod and his friends get busted doing something bad. Something really bad.
Lucky Tod must spend his daily detention in a hot, empty room with Mrs. Woodrow, a no-nonsense guidance counselor. He doesn’t know why he’s there, but she does. Tod’s punishment: to scrawl his story in a beat-up notebook. He can be painfully funny and he can be brutally honest. But can Mrs. Woodrow help Tod stop playing the bad guy before he actually turns into one . . . for real?
Read Tod’s notebook for yourself.
Book Details: Format: Paperback Publication Date: 8/21/2012 Pages: 240 Reading Level: Age 12 and Up