“Think about it. You don’t have to do something BIG. Just something right.”
8th Grade Superzero by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich is about Reggie Garvey McKnight, a kid who has been spending his days trying not to draw attention to himself. Mostly because of the embarrassing incident that happened on the first day of school (he threw up all over the stage in front of everyone–the book hints at this for a long time, but it’s pretty obvious what happened) but also because he doesn’t know how to stand up for himself. That is, until the principal announces the school’s presidential race could net some money for the school.
What I Liked
– Ruthie is my favorite. Ever. She’s smart, she’s militant, and her fashion sense speaks to me (mostly message t-shirts and skirts). Basically, she’s the Hermione of the group.
– The discussion of faith that threads itself throughout the narrative is well-handled. Reggie spends a lot of time questioning why God lets bad things happen, especially as he and his youth group start a project at a local homeless shelter.
I am trying to think of other things in the narrative I liked, but I’m having a really hard time. I’m trying to figure out why, and I guess the biggest reason is that What I Didn’t Like boils down to the fact that none of the elements really hung together for me in a cohesive or compelling narrative. There were so many things I liked about the book individually. Aside from the aforementioned I also dug the family relationship, the look at unemployment, Reggie’s relationship with his big sister Monica, a lot of the stuff with his little buddy Charlie, and some of the other questions of cowardice, involvement, and change.
Maybe it’s a case of a book trying to do too much?
I also wasn’t a fan of the narrative style. The book is in first person present tense, but almost every section ends with Reggie neatly tying up what happened with what the occurrence means. I dig that the kids are smart (I mean, Ruthie could seriously be one of my daughter’s peers), but that kind of reflection or neat wrapping up would only happen with reflection–not in the moment. Or, at least, that’s my experience/expectation. (Sidenote: This is a pet peeve of mine in general. It’s one of the huge problems I had with the third Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants book.)
Also, I hate, hate, hate, HATED the ending. Flames on the side of my face levels of hate. (a) It seemed suited to an older book/character. (b) It’s the exact same problem I had with the end of Why We Broke Up. I am trying to be spoiler-free, but, people. Seriously. Stop it. Stop it, stop it, stop it, stop it.
In conclusion: Some good stuff, but the book didn’t quite work for me.
Books mentioned in this book: City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau, Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston