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Buddha Boy

3.57 of 5 stars 3.57  ·  rating details  ·  715 ratings  ·  129 reviews
How to survive being good
Like a flashback memory, he's there in my mind: skimming up the stairs at school, his sloppy old T-shirt big as a sail, red tie-dyed dragon T-shirt, who wears stuff like that? No one. Jinsen.
The kids at Edward Rucher High School call Jinsen "Buddha Boy" and condemn him as a freak. With his shaved head and perpetual smile, Jinsen certainly doesn't
Hardcover, 128 pages
Published March 4th 2003 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
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Chloe Mae I think the protagonist would be Justin because he is the narrator of the entire story. I think the antagonist would be McManus because he is harming…moreI think the protagonist would be Justin because he is the narrator of the entire story. I think the antagonist would be McManus because he is harming Jinsen and Justin both. Hope this helps! (less)
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Community Reviews

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This book was a random recommendation while I was book shopping and the title was quirky enough to catch my interest. It was worth it.

I think on audio it was 2/2.5 hours. I could have read it in 1, I'm sure. The story is fairly simple, the setting familiar. A boy (sophomore, I believe) in high school is just trying to keep his head down and not be noticed (in the bad way) by the popular kids. He's doing pretty good, has his friends and is happy. Then he meets Buddha Boy.

Through chance, and a lit
David Mejia
I would pour gasoline and set myself on fire if I ever have to recommend this book. Preachy, whiny, and long winded plot, characters were boring and unrealistic, nothing stood out. It felt as if it was a brochure advocating Buddhism. I have nothing against Buddhism but it really felt as if it was forced down my throat only to be regurgitated at the end. Boring read. Do not recommend
What I like about Kathe Koja is that in her writing, she doesn't try way too hard. I'm not saying she doesn't put effort into writing a good book, but in so many more modern YA books the authors try to make their characters and plot so jaw dropping and full to the brim of surprise and literary gold. Most of the time, these books aren't so great, which is why I like Kathe Koja because her writing is a lot more nonchalant.

I first read Buddha Boy about five years ago maybe (it was published in 2003
This is a good example of when an author tries to be poetic but fails miserably. What was supposed to be lyrical ends up being dry and boring. Putting language aside, the plot was SO typical of anti-bullying stories that I could and did predict what would happen (I was right). A fairly popular boy meets another boy who is different because of religion, dress etc. They end up working on a project together and the different and bullied boy ends up being really talented and having great insight int ...more
Dan Curley
This was a predictably boring book to say the least. This book is based of off the same formula for a summer reading book. Kid is bullied for being different, other semi-popular kid pities him, semi-popular kid discovers the different kid has a hidden talent, they become friends as out casts together. And not to mention the characters. Different talented kid, semi-popular sympathetic kid, his jerk friend, his sympathetic other friend, the popular bully, and last an authority figure to help the n ...more
One of the most powerful stories on bullying I have ever read, with an unusual take as the victim is allowing the harassment out of religious beliefs. I love how the author has woven into the main plot the healing power of art and a wonderful introduction to Buddhism that awakens the interest for this philosophy of life in readers unfamiliar with it. As the author shares at the end of the audio version I listened to, she loathes bullying that gives empty people, stunted souls, power, allowing th ...more
Franki D
In the novel, Buddha Boy, by Kathe Koja, a high school boy, Justin, is paired for a project with a new boy in school, Jinsen, who wears a t-shirt to his knees and sports a shaved head making him an easy target for most at Rucher High School. At first Justin wants to just get this over with and be done as soon as possible, but while working on the project Justin discovers that Jinsen has incredible artistic ability, so he insists that Jinsen joins the art class at Rucher. Justin also takes an int ...more
If I had to sum up what Buddha Boy is about I'd say both bullying and religious tolerance. Which I think are two things that go hand in hand, since many children and teens who have different beliefs than their peers do tend to be harassed and bullied for it. And are two things that need to be taught more in both the schools and by adults.

Jinsin is the Buddha Boy in question, spending his lunch hour begging for food or spare change. The protagonist of the book, Justin, is wary about befriending
Shawn Crown
While reading Buddha boy you get to see a type of culture a boy portrays that is very unique. Usually when someone new comes to a school, the first couple days is very scary. The person tries to fit in with everybody with the best of their abilities. Once he comes to the school the people think he is very unusual and not normal. So right off the bat people are starting to judge him. An average kid would care about the other kids opinions, but Buddha Boy isn't a regular kid. That is one of the ma ...more
Kristine Hall
I listened to this quick story, and I enjoyed the effects that were used in the audio: for example, using music to signal chapters/transitions and using an echo-y effect on the voice of the main character, Justin, when he had internal dialogue.

This is a semi-typical bullying story but it does have a less-than-typical victim, Jinsen, and a good twist to his story. There were some very poignant observations and commentary about church, religion, and karma, and for a delightful change of pace, sev
What a wonderful book.... I was lucky to receive this Audio Book for free from's summer program - Thank you.

I really enjoyed listening to this beautiful story unfold about Jinsen and Justin - their friendship so tentative and unsure at first continued to blossom into something meaningful and strong. The bullying that occurs in this story is really applicable to many situations and multiple grade levels. It's a great lesson that is taught within these pages.

The story was extre
Steffanie Angelo
I thought that this book was an okay book. I didn't really like it that much because the story line was kind of boring, there wasn't much action. It kind of was a book about becoming friends with someone that is considered weird in school, which I don't fancy. I wouldn't want to read the rest of the series of this book if there was a series. The writing wasn't powerful or difficult, but it wasn't bad, like to the point where I had to stop reading because of how boring it was. I think that the we ...more
English Education
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Shawn Thrasher
A friend convinced me to keep reading, and I'm glad I did. These high school bully stories always bother me though, they hit too close to the heart.
The Basics

A boy named Jinsen is the new kid at school, and he’s instantly singled out for his shaved head and tie-dyed dragon shirts. They call him “Buddha Boy”, and with his calm demeanor and tendency to turn the other cheek, he seems to fit the description. When Justin, our narrator, is paired up with him for a class, he has to decide if he wants to be Jinsen’s friend and become a target or if he’d rather take the easy road.

My Thoughts

This book sounds like it should be glurge. If you don’t kno
This is the story of a cool young high school boy, Justin, whose life is interrupted by the arrival of a new student, Jinsen. Jinsen is very different, and Justin is embarrassed about being partnered with him for their project for art class. While working on the art project, Justin begins to see Jinsen for who he really is and, with the support of his artist father, goes on to defend Jinsen from the school bullies. Through art, Justin comes to learn powerful les
Richie Partington
6 November 2002 BUDDHA BOY by Kathe Koja, FSG/Frances Foster Books, March 2003

"That's right: You can't play tug of war with someone who refuses to hold the other end of the rope."

That's how a friend of mine characterized what I was excitedly telling her about BUDDHA BOY, the superb new book by Kathe Koja. It was a foggy early morning on campus--I'd just come from voting--and I was explaining how, in contrast to the many stories where the bullies/jocks/student "leaders" had the satisfaction of se
Justin muddles through high school, being tolerated and clinging to his two friends, neither rising to the height of popularity nor sinking to the depth of school punching bag. Until Michael Marvin, aka Jinsen, arrives with his shaved head and baggy clothes and blithe, honest approach. They connect over art, namely that Justin's dad is an artist and Justin appreciates art and that Jinsen is truly an artist. However, Jinsen has become the most popular target at Edward Rucher High School, a
Robert Beveridge
Kathe Koja, Buddha Boy (Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux, 2003)

I got to the point about eight years ago where I finally gave in to the temptation to predict an author. After the back-to-back triumphs that were Skin and Strange Angels, I figured that from here on out, anything Kathe Koja would release would be brilliant, and every book she released would find its way onto my top ten for whatever year in which I read it.

Then she started writing kidlit. I approached Straydog with some trepidation, but i
In the book Buddha Boy the main character faces peer pressure when a new kid comes to his school. The new kid's name is Jinsen but the main character continuasly calls him Buddha Boy most likely via the title of the book. Everyone except for the main character seperates Jinsen from them because the way he acts is different because his religion. Even a girl in his school who thinks everyone is equal starts to contradicts what she believes and becomes sort of a hipercrite in my mind. Jinsen's gift ...more
In Buddha Boy , by Kathe Koja is about a boy named Jinsen aka Buddha Boy. Other kids at the school consider him a freak. When he begs for lunch money it doesn't help the matter of people liking him. A boy named Justin is paired up with Jinsen for a class project, Justin plans to get this over with as soon as possible. But then Justin finds out about all of Jinsens artistic talent and Justin becomes curious about Buddha Boys beliefs. Justin is then forced into a cruel contest with the jocks who w ...more
Nov 27, 2010 Lawral marked it as read-but-unowned  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya, middle-grade
Buddha Boy has that feeling of hurtling towards disaster running along in the background of the whole thing. In the forefront, however, there is a great story about Jinsen and Justin. Jinsen seems not to care what anyone thinks of or does to him. Good thing, too, since he dresses, looks and acts odd, none of which gets him a bunch of friends. He practically invites kids to bully him when he starts to beg for lunch money in the cafeteria. Most of the kids do just that, either actively by throwing ...more
This is a good book if you want to read about high school troubles because that is basically what the book is about. It is fun to read to me because it is simple to compare with the real world. This book had a lot of meaning but it was packed in a short book. To me it was a good book since it is easier to understand if u know where the characters going to do because u might have went through this before and it might suprise you where he'll end up. The main characters name is Justin and his life ...more
Rossana Snee
This was a short, yet gem of a book. This is the story of Jinsen, considered an outcast by most of his high school. He is asked by his teacher to join Justin for a project. At first Justin is trying to figure out a way to stay away from this boy nicknamed Buddah Boy, but after working with him discovers that Jinsen is an amazing person and not who everyone thinks his is. I loved this book and would most definitely recommend it!
Jill Bonham
So this is a short book that I got from this summer's Sync Audio selection of free YA books offered over the summer. I thought it was an ok, good book. Deals with friendship, bullying, being different. While writing this, I all of a sudden was reminded of "Forgive me Leonard Peacock", how the friend would play the violin and Leonard liked to sneak in a listen to him. It reminds me here how the friend was had the artistic talent. Anyway, I think maybe because it was so short or maybe because the ...more
The story of Buddha Boy is told in first person from the point of view of teenage boy, Justin. Through him we are introduced to Jinsen, the character who others disparagingly refer to as Buddha Boy. Jinsen's physical appearance (he has a shaved head and wears oversized t-shirt in freezing weather) and behavior (he begs for money during the lunch period) make him stand out from the other students which makes him an easy target for bullying. Justin slowly befriends Jinsen while completing a school ...more
Wow, this was treacly. You could practically feel the gentle tenderness with which the author sets out her characters and story. See how poignant this is? Feel the pain of being an outsider and bullying? Yuck. Can't say I was a fan, and I think that there are better books on the subject. She says at the end that she doesn't believe in easy, clean wrap ups. Oh really?

Not recommended.
Phil Goerner
Fast enjoyable read. Liked the characters- could see them in high school. The plot moved at a good pace and developed fine-I was satisfied with the ending. Liked the values and principals the kids had and the development of the characters too.

It might have been a bit predictable, but it was satisfying the way t was written.

Would recommend to teens!
Kristina Marie
3 stars. Pretty good. I think kids would like it, but it's pretty predictable. Many of the scenes would play out the same way today with a bit of cyber bullying thrown in. The ending is realistic, too.

I love full cast recordings, but I didn't like the music in this one. The producers were trying too hard, and it came out silly.
Hugh Willard
What a great story with rich character development and a beautiful message. Unfortunately, the writing style was excessively chaotic. It felt like stream of consciousness through an ADD lens. I'm certain that this was a deliberate choice by the author. I tried to follow the intention of this choice but only became frustrated. It was excessive.
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Kathe Koja (born 1960) is an American writer. She was initially known for her intense speculative fiction for adults, but over the past few years has turned to writing young adult novels.

Koja is also a prolific author of short stories, including many in collaboration with Barry N. Malzberg. Most of her short fiction remains uncollected. Koja's novels and short stories frequently concern characters
More about Kathe Koja...
The Cipher Skin The Blue Mirror Under the Poppy Kissing the Bee

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“Do you know the concept of karma? It’s kind of like a circle, or cause-and-effect, like a slow-tolling bell you rang maybe a year ago, five years ago, maybe in another lifetime if you believe in that. Karma means that what you do today, and why you do it, makes you who you are forever: as if you were clay, and every thought and action left a mark in that clay, bent it, shaped it, even ruined it… but with karma there are no excuses, no explanations, no I-didn’t-really-mean-it-so-can-I-have-some-more-clay. Karma takes everything you do very, very seriously.” 8 likes
“In history, in a movie, in a book, you can always tell who the heroes are;
they're the ones rushing into a burning building, giving crucial testimony in
the courtroom, refusing to step to the back of the bus. They're the ones who
act the way you hope you would, if the moment came to you.
But the movies and the history books never tell you how they felt, those
heroes, if they were angry or uncertain or afraid, if they had to think a
long time before they did the right thing, if they even knew what the right
thing was or just made a headlong guess, just leaped and hoped they landed
instead of falling. They never tell you what it's like to stand on the
brink, wishing you were somewhere--or someone--else, wishing the choice had
never come your way and you could just go back to your safe, ordinary,
everyday life.
Because you know what else the books never say? Nobody, hero or not, really
wants to rush into a fire. Because fire burns.”
More quotes…