Mehhh. Fine idea, but the dialogue and narration were often stilted and jerky. Characters were one-dimensional and sometimes hard to keep straight fro...moreMehhh. Fine idea, but the dialogue and narration were often stilted and jerky. Characters were one-dimensional and sometimes hard to keep straight from each other (even ones who were supposed to be stereotypes - a pot-smoking, huge football player name Flax?). Another reviewer called the action "oddly compressed" and it's a good description. While the concept wasn't brilliant or anything, I constantly asked myself how this could've sounded or felt if any other writer had written it - total squandered potential. Easy read but wouldn't have read it if I weren't stranded with family and all but bookless.(less)
I'm realizing that Perrotta's niche is clearly writing about miserable people in horribly uncomfortable situations, who are only happy (momentarily, o...moreI'm realizing that Perrotta's niche is clearly writing about miserable people in horribly uncomfortable situations, who are only happy (momentarily, of course) when they are doing 'wrong'/especially uncomfortable things - and making you hang on every word. No one is ever quite fully evil, and certainly no one is good, and it's all in all pretty torturous to read. I want more.(less)
This is a perfect read-aloud book, one I'd seen in classrooms for ages but never actually read until my coteacher suggested it. And she was right. The...moreThis is a perfect read-aloud book, one I'd seen in classrooms for ages but never actually read until my coteacher suggested it. And she was right. There's so much to have deeper conversations around with our class.
Bradley, the 'bad kid', is everyone's idea of a nightmare, but the book slowly lets you in to see exactly how low his self-esteem is. I loved seeing Bradley alone in his room, using his model animals to allow himself to actually feel what he's feeling instead of just yelling and raging and growling at everything around him to scare people off. In life it's hard to let people in and actually be yourself, especially when you hate yourself as much as Bradley does. He gets through it and realizes he can be a friend and a good person, but I love that it's slow and hard - it goes terribly over and over again. That's how it really is in life. You can't just fix stuff immediately.
I also loved that Jeff - who at first I thought would be the main character who "gets to know the real Bradley" and understands him - was actually the secondary character. He was a friend to Bradley, but he didn't just stick by him or discover him. He got angry at him, he ditched him for the "cool kids"; it was a lot more like real life. I also felt his frustration - after trying to Bradley's frustration, I would've given up too. You can only do so much to be someone's friend, after all. Sometimes they have to do things on their own!
I also really like that Louis Sachar used the idea of a "monster" to symbolize Bradley. We all kind of feel like monsters sometimes. I know I can feel scary and terrible and like no one would want to be around. We all have things we hate about ourselves, even though mine aren't tentacles or having four fingers. But it reminds me of the movie "Monsters, Inc." - the monsters are scary to some people, but darn, aren't they also awesome and kind of adorable? So Bradley - and the rest of us - can be those things, too. Probably. Eventually.(less)
None of the characters in this book should be all that likeable or sympathetic, yet somehow Perrotta had me sympathizing with them, from the couple ch...moreNone of the characters in this book should be all that likeable or sympathetic, yet somehow Perrotta had me sympathizing with them, from the couple cheating on their spouses in front of their three-year-olds down to the child molester new to the neighborhood. I really wasn't sure where their stories could go without breaking the world of suburban ennui I was (surprisingly) totally engrossed in and ruining it (either with disaster or perfection), but the ending satisfied me in a way I was not expecting either. On the verge of five stars.(less)