Book Review: Mark Goldblatt’s Twerp

Posted May 18, 2013 by Kathy Davie in

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Mark Goldblatt’s Twerp


on May 28, 2013 and has 290 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.

It’s six months in the life of Julian Twerski — a very bright young man in 1969.

In 2015, Twerp was nominated for the Dorothy Canfield Fisher Children’s Book Award.

My Take

It’s good. I love the flow of Goldblatt’s writing, and he really captures the mind of a twelve-year-old. It’s a structured stream of consciousness as Julian writes what he thinks of his teacher, his task, and his own actions. Actions that will have a far-reaching effect on his future and his becoming a man.

You’ll laugh, you’ll cry. You’ll shake your head. Some of it will bring back memories of your own.

It was slow to get started, but once I got a third of the way in or so, things perked up and the reading just flew by. It was so perfectly a boy’s childhood with the playing, the pranks, the worries, the sister, the mishaps. And boys who are easily led.

For the most part, the boys are good kids. Sure they get up to mischief, but that Lonnie… He’s a bit of a bad boy with too much charisma and leads the boys into devilry. The consequences of which seem to slide right off him. Maybe it’s those minyans he keeps getting dragged off to, LOL.

It was as if one pigeon took it into its head that the far end of Ponzini would be a good place to rest for a minute, and then the entire air force joined in.

Oh man, Cyrano de Bergerac has a lot to answer for. And so does Lonnie, asking his friend to do such a thing for him. That love letter was a good effort on Julian’s part, and it does at least further his friendship with a good kid.

I do love Julian’s insights into Shakespeare, and how he relates his lessons to his own life. How a guy can hurt his friend by doing the right thing. That, in the long run, no one will ever know or remember Julian Twerski, that he’s a quintessence of dust.

Julian is a good kid, introspective, and with a good heart. Once he quiets down away from Lonnie and his influence. he’s smart and discovering an appreciation for writing.

The Story

A vicious little prank finds Julian paying for his part in it by writing a journal. It might grant him relief from Julius Caeser while Mr. Selkirk is hoping he reflects on his actions.

Typical kidstuff, back in the day before kids had to be wrapped up in cotton wool…however, did the human race survive…*grin*…

The Characters

Julian Twerski is twelve years old and hangs with his friends — mostly in Ponzini, an empty lot behind an apartment building.

His friends include Lonnie Fine, the leader of their gang and Julian’s best friend; Quick Quentin is a bit slow; Eric the Red (it’s his hair); Howie “Wartnose” Wurtzberg; Shlomo Shlomo (his mama…); and, Bernard and Beverly Segal — brother and sister. Bernard is “a waste of human ingredients” while Howie is in love with his sister.

I think his sister Amelia has it right about Julian. The Dongs are the Chinese couple who own the house where Julian’s family rent the upstairs. Mrs. Fine is a concentration camp survivor while Mr. Fine owns a candy store.

Stanley “Danley” Stimmel is slow and attends a special school. Victor Ponzini is a year younger and unliked. Partly because he’s a squealer. Jillian Rifkin is new to school and absolutely gorgeous. On the outside. Her dad is a great guy — just ask Eduardo, the Guatemalan fútbol player and orphan he takes in, who is a threat to Julian. Devlin is an obnoxious fourteen-year-old who mows lawns. Willie is another runner at school, almost fast enough to beat Julian.

Mr. Selkirk is his English teacher. Mr. Caricone is the student teacher for Mr. Loeb‘s social studies class. Mr. Greetham is the coach.

The Cover and Title

The cover is an egg in your face against a red background…and the truth behind how Julian feels, he’s a Twerp for having done as he did.


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