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10th Grade    by Joseph Weisberg order for
10th Grade
by Joseph Weisberg
Order:  USA  Can
Random House, 2003 (2002)
Hardcover, Paperback

Read an Excerpt

* * *   Reviewed by David Pitt

Attention, class. You there, in the back: pay attention. I want to tell you about a novel that's so good you'll be amazed when I tell you it's the author's first book. It's called l0th Grade, and it's narrated by Jeremiah Reskin, who is - I'm sure you saw this coming - in the tenth grade. In the traditional sense, it's not really about anything: it has no 'plot,' no beginning-middle-end story structure. But oh boy is it fun.

Jeremiah is really just telling us about his school year - making friends, meeting girls (especially the lovely Renee Shopmaker), having some adolescent adventures - but it's the way he tells it that makes the novel so immensely enjoyable. Here's the way it opens: 'I'm starting right before the beginning. That way you'll get to know some of the main characters like my parents and my 2 sisters even though they're not really the main main characters.'

By the way, Jeremiah rarely punctuates, apart from full stops at the ends of sentences: 'I know there are supposed to be about 40 million commas in that sentence and everywhere else too,' he writes at one point, 'but whenever I put them in they're in the wrong place so screw it.' Jeremiah underlines instead of italicizing, uses numbers instead of words and mixes up his grammar from time to time ('this was the 1st time me and Douglas really talked in depth about this stuff ...'), and just generally sounds like a tenth-grader - instead, if you know what I mean, like an adult novelist trying to write like a kid.

The book itself is packaged like a textbook: no dustjacket, and a strong, durable binding, just like your good ol' math text. (But a heck of a lot more entertaining.) It's Weisberg's first novel, and we can only hope his subsequent offerings are as good as this one is.

If you like this book, incidentally, you should check out Chip Kidd's The Cheese Monkeys, another wonderful novel narrated by a student (although a college student, this time). I believe you can find a review on this very website.

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