Destinee Sutton's Reviews > Neil Armstrong is My Uncle and Other Lies Muscle Man McGinty Told Me

Neil Armstrong is My Uncle and Other Lies Muscle Man McGinty ... by Nan Marino
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Jul 01, 09

bookshelves: historical-fiction, middle-grade, bullies
Recommended for: 10 and up

It's the summer of '69, but we're not talking Woodstock--we're talking kickball, Neil Armstrong, and the ice cream man. Our narrator, Tamara, has just finished the fifth grade. She's unhappy because her best friend has suddenly moved away and in her place a runty, mendacious boy nicknamed Muscle Man has moved in. Sadly, she takes her frustration out on poor Muscle Man, who smiles through all her bullying like a love-hungry puppy who doesn't know any better.

I think we're used to hearing stories like this from the perspective of the victim (Muscle Man) or the hero (which could be any of the other kids in the neighborhood--they're all very nice). That we hear it from Tamara, who is basically the villain, makes it interesting. The reader gets an inside look at why she's cruel and how she doesn't really see herself as cruel at all. I can't say I really enjoyed reading about a clueless mean kid, but it was a good idea and fairly well-executed.

There are a lot of what we call "issues" in this book: loss, death, bad parents, class differences. I think, though, that the issue that stood out to me is when and why it's sometimes better to lie than tell the truth. The book doesn't spell it out too overtly, which I liked.
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