Review: 8th GRADE SUPERZERO by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich

Posted 26 September, 2010 | Mary @ TheBookSwarm | | 0 Comments

Final Grade: 80/C
YA Contemporary
272 pages
Available now
Review copy purchased
Rated PG

BLURB: For middle schooler Reggie McKnight, being called “Pukey” is the least of his problems. School elections are coming up, but he’s as far away from being school President as he is from shutting down his enemy Donovan or meeting up with the beautiful Mialonie. His friends Ruthie and Joe C. have his back, but let’s face it: Reggie can only be a superhero on the pages of his graphic novel, Night Man. 

Then Reggie gets involved with a local homeless shelter, the Olive Branch. Haunted by two of the clients there — George, a once proud man now living on the streets, and five-year-old Charlie, who becomes his official “Little Buddy” — he begins to think about making a difference, both in the world and at school. Pukey for President? It can happen…if he starts believing.

REVIEW: I picked this book up after multiple recommendations during a Twitter Chat (#YAlitchat). Maybe my expectations were too high but I was slightly disappointed. It’s not that 8th GRADE SUPERZERO is bad–not at all! Actually, it would be a great book to teach in my 8th grade class. There are tons of lessons and research that I can totally see resulting from my students reading this book.

But as a reader, I didn’t want to be preached to. Which is what I felt like was happening through much of the story. Homelessness is bad/sad and anyone can be homeless. Stand firm in your beliefs. Look beneath the surface of those around you. It’s hard to be out of work. Don’t judge someone based on their race. Stand up for those who are weaker than you. (Not that I disagreed with any of the points Rhuday-Perkovich brought up in her book. I just prefer it to be more subtle, if it’s done at all.)

Reggie McKnight is a good character with a strong voice. He’s the reason I kept reading the book. I wanted to know what happened to him. I wanted to know if he would be able to overcome the terrible nickname he earned the first day of eighth grade, when he threw up on stage all over the principal’s shoes. I wanted to know if he would get the girl or would finish his comic book. And I wasn’t disappointed. The main story was very engaging. But I got hung up on the subplots (the one with his sister was particularly muddy) and the lecture-y bits.

It took me quite a while to finish this book, mostly because I got bogged down in parts, especially where the author was trying to drive home a point. When I hit one of those, I’d put this book to the side and read something else. But I always came back to it. While the author needs to work on her show-versus-tell, I would most definitely pick up another book by her.

This author can be purchased at AMAZON or INDIEBOUND books.

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