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The Downside of Being Up

3.2  ·  Rating Details ·  123 Ratings  ·  41 Reviews
Thirteen-year-old Bobby Connor is a normal adolescent boy--at least he hopes he is--just trying to survive middle school. But it seems he's being foiled at every turn, and even his own body is conspiring against him. And when his math teacher is seriously injured from the shock and fright of witnessing just how out of control Bobby's changing adolescent body is getting, he ...more
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published September 15th 2011 by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers (first published September 1st 2011)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Apr 23, 2012 Samantha rated it did not like it
Unless you are a middle school boy who is obsessed with your penis and its apparently uncontrollable and erratic behavior, then this is not the book for you. The Downside of Being Up (and no, unfortunately I didn't get the title, being a 40-something school librarian sans penis) is about thirteen-year-old Bobby Conner, who is in trouble because of his penis problem. Specifically, he had one of those unfortunate school day erections that he just could not cover. Instead, his whole math class was ...more
Edward Sullivan
Sep 24, 2011 Edward Sullivan rated it really liked it
Finally a novel that addresses the ages-old dilemma of every adolescent boy--the inexplicable onslaught of frequent erections at the most inappropriate times. An embarrassing but inescapable rite of puberty. If there was ever a genuine "boy book," this is it because it's a story only boys (or men who remember this perfectly awful time of life) can truly appreciate.
Although I grew weary of the penis and fart jokes, and the grandfather's comments about masturbation made me squeamish about passing this book to any of my sixth grade students, I appreciate what Sitomer was trying to do here. The book wasn't written for me, and I imagine teenage boys will love it.
Jen Bigheart (I Read Banned Books)
Sep 15, 2011 Jen Bigheart (I Read Banned Books) rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc
If you need a go-to reference for slang words for the male reproductive organ, just buy this book! Tired of using the terms: banana, wang, peen, donger, and wiener? Then get out your highlighter and start on page one with words like: weinerschnitzel, pole, south-of-the-border sausage, and baloney bomb. I literally laughed my tail off every five seconds over these terms - and there were literally a million of them! I am impressed with the diverse use of vocabulary, and wonder how Sitomer came up ...more
Aug 17, 2011 Barbara rated it it was ok
Shelves: ncbla
I'm glad that Alan Sitomer writes books that often appeal to a forgotten audience. I enjoyed Hip-Hop High School and The Secret Story of Sonia Rodriguez, and while his most recent book probably seeks to attract a different kind of audience, it disappointed me. Maybe you have to be a teen boy to appreciate this one, but I grew tired very fast of all the erection and flatulence jokes found throughout the book. While I'm glad someone approached this particular topic--involuntary erections that rise ...more
Sep 14, 2011 snb rated it it was amazing
Starred Booklist Review:

At 13, Bobby suffers from a typical developmental concern: he is plagued by inopportunely timed erections. What is atypical is Sitomer’s fearless comic treatment of this taboo subject. When not bedeviled by wayward woodies, Bobby also suffers from second-rate parents, a school staff that would give any kid nightmares, and a guilty conscience about how his younger sister came to miss so much school that she’s been left a grade behind. When Bobby fails to talk his math teac
Jan 26, 2014 Jill rated it liked it

The further I got into The Downside of Being Up, the more I liked it (with the exception of the first chapter which was filled with hilarious epithets for an erection--which was also the funniest thing about this book). The novel is very cartoonish; everyone is a caricature-ish stereotype. The parents are irredeemable jerks, Bobby is a total ass to his best friend, and the pervy, demented grandpa is the hero. If you don't take this novel seriously at all, it's entertaining. And it really isn'
Maybe I'm missing something, but I was not that impressed with this book. Then again, I am not a middle school boy (or a male at all, for that matter) so I'm willing to think it's just not geared towards my demographic. However, you know that scene in Mulan where she says she never wants to see a naked man again and then all these naked men run past her? That's what this book was like in a way. I don't need to read any more synonyms for a penis (bologna pony? That's a thing?) OR hear about the ...more
Jul 21, 2015 David rated it liked it
Weinerschnitzel. Steel pole. Bit of thunder. Beef Kabob. South-of-the-Border Sausage. Salami. Stiffies. Ding-dong. Banana. Sky-high pork pie. Bologna pony. Bonerville.

Every 13-yo boy has to deal with it, someone finally wrote about it.
This is a book about a boy and his boner.

The first few chapters provide more euphemisms than plot details (see my opening paragraph). But the overall story is one every boy can identify with, and they may enjoy the humor that comes from a shared experience or en
Sarah Mae
Jan 31, 2012 Sarah Mae rated it liked it
Shelves: yar
Bobby Connor is a normal thirteen-year-old boy with a normal boy problem: erections at awkward moments. After an unwanted erection causes his math teacher to have a serious fall, he is being threatened with expulsion. His father strikes a deal with the school, no expulsion but Bobby has to complete “correctional erectional therapy” Between therapy, falling for the new math teacher’s daughter, and dealing with his gross friend and even grosser Grandpa, will Bobby ever feel like a normal kid ...more
Paul  Hankins
This is one you'll have to read for yourself. The subject of the book is one of a personal, but most familiar, issue for boys.

With NERD GIRLS and now THE DOWNSIDE OF BEING UP, Alan Sitomer is securing his place as a middle grade humor writer which will no doubt put in a well-deserved place with authors like Lubar, Paulsen, and Sachar.

Alan writes this one pretty true to the pre-adolescent/adolescent experience, complete with the anxiety that comes from within and the humor without.

Encourage yo
Lisa Scott
Jul 09, 2012 Lisa Scott rated it liked it
As other reviewers have said, I am so not the target audience for this book. (I keep hearing it called "Judy Blume for boys," which is odd considering how many of her books are already great for boys, but I get the idea.) Lots and lots of gross-out humor. There is a nice story underneath, and I wound up liking the girl who is Bobby's crush-- she actually gets to be a real person. I don't think I could manage to recommend it to my sixth graders without blushing furiously, but I won't need to. One ...more
Nicole Smith
Sep 22, 2012 Nicole Smith rated it it was ok
I'm really glad I was able to breeze through this in one day. If I hadn't gotten stuck waiting for several hours for friends with only this to read, and if I wasn't such a stickler for finishing books I start I don't think I would have finished this one.

The biggest thing I took away from this book is that I am not excited about having teenage boys in my care someday. I will say, I greatly appreciated the lack of profanity in this book that is praised for capturing teen speak and high school cult
Jan 19, 2013 Terry rated it liked it
This book starts out funny and ends up sweet. Yes, there are many penis jokes. Otherwise, this is fairly straight-forward, middle-school material. And there should be a place for this, because a slice of guy readers will be entranced by the early naughtiness of "Down Side." For boys who aren't hooked by fantasy or sports lit, this offers an alternative. Follow it up with Boy Minus Girl, MAD Magazine, and the like.
Chris Mclean
Jun 10, 2013 Chris Mclean rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-ya
Very funny, kind of inappropriate book.....Bobby has an erection in math class ( he gets them a lt) and scares his old lady teacher so much that she trips, falls and will be out for the rest of the year. The new teacher has a daughter that Bobby thinks is cute....

There are more jokes about erections that I can even count...and fart jokes, too.

I totally loved this book. It's one Inwould give my sons but I guess one that I really can't hand to a student. Too bad, because it is funny and a little t
Apr 23, 2013 Mike rated it liked it
Shelves: teen
Imagine the kid from Diary of a Wimpy Kid being plagued by the reality of puberty---uncontrollable boners. That is what this book is. It is funny in a very juvenile way. Buried under all the slang terms for penises there really is a decent coming of age story. There are things that bothered me about the story--mainly Bobby being sent to Errectional Correctional Therapy that seemed completely ridiculous but made more sense and slightly more believable by the end of the story. Not sure who I would ...more
Oct 15, 2011 Jennifer rated it liked it
This is a book about erections. And although the number of penis references alone will probably make school librarians shy away from it, but this is a book targeted to the young adolescent male if there ever was one! Bobby's attempts at "correctional erectional therapy" will have them howling, but this is also a story of relationships, first love, raging hormones, and life in middle school. Written by a teacher - gotta love that!
Feb 15, 2012 Juniper rated it liked it
This is from the first person view of a middle school aged boy that gets in trouble for getting a 'boner' in class. For all of its penis references this is a pretty funny book for/about a boy of that age, trying to deal with his body, his new crush, his unhelpful parents and at the same time doing right by a few people he has wronged.

This was a quick read that didn't fall into any of the usual traps. I am on a 'boy's perspective' roll right now and I like it!
Jun 17, 2012 Becky rated it it was ok
Shelves: ya, lol
This book is about a middle school boy who gets a lot of boners. While it dove into the boner issue right away, it didn't mention it at all on the jacket flap, which I think is a bit of a misrepresentation. Lots of juvenile toiler humor in this one as well as penis jokes that are kind of funny at first, but wear out quickly. Probably hilarious to the 5th-8th grade set - it is clearly written with the lowest of the YA range in mind.
Madison Trittler
Mar 24, 2015 Madison Trittler rated it liked it
This month I read The Downside of Being Up by Alan Sitomer. This book genre is a fictional novel. This book is about a teenager who use to have a normal boring life then something happened. He changed and started having a unreal life. I rated the book 3. stars because it was intresting but could be more exciting.
Brenda Kahn
Jul 13, 2012 Brenda Kahn rated it it was ok
Shelves: humorous, 2012
I had such high hopes for this one. Sure the humor was a bit ham-handed - perfect for the intended demographic. The story was a bit limp. It started out like a farce. In a farce, I can accept unlikely premises and cardboard characters, but then it tried to be earnest and crammed in a bit too many issues that were too tidily resolved.
Sep 20, 2012 Ben rated it really liked it
This is a Judy Blume book for boys. It is so wildly inappropriate at times that it is hilarious. While I would not recommend it to my students (in the same way many middle school and high school teachers shy away from recommending Judy Blume), I think many of them may benefit from Bobby's experiences with puberty.
Feb 28, 2014 Karla rated it it was amazing
I LOVED this book! So much humor! If you are looking for a really funny quick read this should be your choice! If you are looking for a literary piece of art this is not for you. BUT if you are looking for a connection with puberty humor this is a win! I think it is a great book to get teenage boys involved in reading.
Jan 02, 2012 Tweller83 rated it really liked it
Other than all the erection puns, this is a good relationship novel. Not sure I could actually recommend it to boys as they might get the wrong idea. Will have to look at reviews before I decide to purchase or not.

"All Bobby Connor wants is to survive middle school, but puberty is making that difficult for him as his body conspires against him."
Sep 27, 2011 Becky37042 rated it it was amazing
This book was laugh out loud funny. I'm worried that the students may never get to read it because I have so many teachers who want to read it. There are more words for male genitalia than I have ever seen before.
Feb 24, 2012 Sarah rated it really liked it
For a book about boners, this was surprisingly sweet. Good middle grade problem novel with plenty of humor. If I were an 11 or 12 year old boy, I think I'd like having read this. While I don't personally like toilet humor, I know lots who do. Glad I bought for my library.
Jul 23, 2012 Kristi rated it really liked it
This is a very funny story about a middle school boy who is betrayed regularly by his adolescent body. He has a serious problem with embarrassing, untimely erections. One in particular gets him into trouble at school. This would be a great book for middle school boys!
Dec 12, 2011 katsok rated it really liked it
This book cracked me up. Sitomer has written a perfect book for teenage boys dealing with puberty. I think the target audience is likely not a 37 mom, but even I was laughing out loud several times as I read this.
Feb 24, 2012 Laima rated it really liked it
I read this book based on excellent reviews by GR friends. It was sooooooo funny! Really enjoyed it.
Carrie Shaurette
Apr 27, 2012 Carrie Shaurette rated it did not like it
Shelves: middle-grade
This is a book for anyone that is humored by reading thirty slang terms for erection. Why do all the characters in this book act like middle school kids when several of them are adults?
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Alan Lawrence Sitomer is a California Teacher of the Year award winner and the founder of The Writer’s Success Academy. In addition to having been an inner-city high school English teacher and former professor in the Graduate School Of Education at Loyola Marymount University, Mr. Sitomer is a nationally renowned keynote speaker who specializes in engaging underperforming students. To date, Mr. ...more
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