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Bucking the Sarge

3.59  ·  Rating Details ·  1,473 Ratings  ·  169 Reviews
Luther T. Farrell has got to get out of Flint, Michigan.

As his best friend Sparky says, “Flint’s nothing but the Titanic.”

And his mother, a.k.a. the Sarge, says, “Take my advice and stay off the sucker path.”

The Sarge milked the system to build an empire of slum housing and group homes. Luther’s just one of the many people trapped in the Sarge’s Evil Empire—but he’s about
Paperback, 288 pages
Published May 9th 2006 by Laurel Leaf (first published September 14th 2004)
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Mar 14, 2011 Laura rated it liked it
Shelves: ya-lit, audiobook, 2011
I listened to the audiobook, which is narrated by Michael Boatman from Spin City. Fabulous job with the narration!

I loved, loved, loved the voice of Luther in this book. Funny, honest, and unique. He quotes philosophers inaccurately and without credit. Some of the quotes will go over the heads of many readers, but that doesn't make the book any less enjoyable.

As much as I liked the book, I don't quite understand one of the most important relationships: Luther and his mother, the Sarge. I never
Jan 27, 2010 Kit rated it really liked it
As always, Christopher Paul Curtis makes me laugh, but this book is darker and for an older audience than Bud Not Buddy. Luther's mom is, not to put too fine a point on it, a slum lord. Although she has arguments for *why* she's a slum lord, most of the movement of this book involves Luther's inner struggle to distance himself from his mother - hopefully without getting beaten up by her rent-a-thug - and make amends for some of the things she's done. Luther is occasionally dim, but it's his pal ...more
Jul 24, 2009 Andi rated it really liked it
Shelves: ls583-ya-lit
Luther T. Farrell is a 15-year-old boy living in Flint, Michigan, employed by his mother to run one of her group homes and clean out her run-down rental houses after her tenants are evicted. He is learning all the tricks of her trade, but he doesn’t like it. From her point of view, she is taking care of him and herself, and getting some of what’s due. The more you know of her the more horrified you become.

The book is so well written it is a joy to read, even as it frightens and saddens me. The h
Abby Johnson
Jul 23, 2007 Abby Johnson rated it liked it
Luther has a few goals in life. 1) To become a world-famous philosopher, 2) to be wealthy, and 3) to win first place in his school science fair three years in a row. He knows he's on his way to 1 and 2, but 3 will take some work. It's hard to find time to work on his project when he's always busy doing chores for the Sarge. The Sarge is Luther's mom and she's always got something for him to do. Heck, she got him his driver's license at age 15 so he could help out with the family business. Luther ...more
Richie Partington
Jan 29, 2012 Richie Partington rated it it was amazing
16 May 2004 BUCKING THE SARGE by Christopher Paul Curtis, Random House/Wendy Lamb Books, September 2004, ISBN: 0-385-32307-7; ISBN Library: 0-385-0159-3
The nation's fifth and sixth grade teachers will return to school in September just in time to discover that Christopher Paul Curtis has forsaken them. BUCKING THE SARGE is not a book that they will be reading aloud to their students in the same way that thousands of them have been reading THE WATSONS GO TO BIRMINGHAM, 1963 and BUD NOT BUDDY.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 24, 2011 Elisa rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya-lit-2011-2012
Rating : **** This book deals with complex issues in a humorous and thoughtful way. Christopher Paul Curtis is great at writing memorable characters that have great depth.
Plot Summary: Luther T. Farrell is a fifteen year old boy who is very mature for his age. He runs one of his mother’s (AKA the Sarge) group homes for men, lives there without his mother, and has been driving since he was thirteen. All Luther T. Farrell wants is to win the school science fair for the third time. But his mother
April Helms
Nov 06, 2010 April Helms rated it really liked it
I listened to this one on CD while my best friend and I were working on various projects. This was one of those "saw it on the shelf, and it looked promising" choices. I had read "Bud, Not Buddy," and "Elijah of Buxton," and had enjoyed those. This, too, was entertaining, although it should be noted that while the previous two books are more for older grade school, this one is more of a Young Adult book. Issues of sex and sexuality are discussed, and the protagonist's mother and her stooges are ...more
Oct 11, 2007 Caroline rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people from Michigan; anyone who has a domineering parent
Shelves: listened-to
I gotta say - I loved this book! I was cheering for my main man Luther the whole time! He's a smart, kind, responsible 14-year-old kid from Flint, Michigan, who is helplessly bound up in his mother's (aka The Sarge's) shady business dealings. She's basically a professional nickle-and-dimer...and Luther goes along with it...but finds ways to maintain some sort of moral standards. He and his friend Sparky are looking for a way out: Luther wants a way out of his mother's control, and Sparky wants a ...more
Dec 06, 2007 Debbie rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: teens
Luther's mother, "the Sarge," is a ruthless slumlord who values money above all else. While still in Middle School, Luther manages a halfway house and drives with an illegal license. The Sarge doesn't pay him, but puts his earnings into a college fund that he's never seen. Luther wants to win the school science fair for the third year in a row. He fancies himself a philosopher, and loves to quote Aristotle and Socrates. When Luther finds out how low the Sarge really is, he hatches a plan for rev ...more
Catherine  Mustread
May 10, 2009 Catherine Mustread rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Catherine by: Great Lakes Book Award Children's 2005
An inspiring teen novel about Luther, the son of "Sarge" a street smart and ambitious woman intent on getting ahead with the assistance of Luther's hard work, drive, ability and devotion to the people he cares for in the group home she runs and the slum dwellings she fixes up for rent or sale. Interesting that it has to do with the hazards of lead based paint in Flint, Michigan which now has even more serious lead issues.
Kimberly Larreta
This book was about a guy who would take care of older men and his boss was the sarge. The Sarge would always pay them but if they did something wrong instead of paying them she would torcher them. The thing that I like about this book is that this book wasn't much about violince but it had a lot of lessons in it. I would recommend this book to all the people who like books with long chapters.
Jan 02, 2013 Heather rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya, lis-404, 2013
This went from being a "just ok" book to making me cheer and imagine Luther doing the mark of Zorro. Awesome.
Jose Martinez
Mar 03, 2017 Jose Martinez rated it really liked it
Bucking the Sarge. A boy named Luther T. Farrell helps his mom take care of people with different types of disabilities or bad habits. His mother raised him up alone because his dad died. She is raising him so once he is old enough he can run the shelter but he does not want to do that.
Luther wants to study and go to a high end school. His mother disagrees with his idea. he tends to try anything he can but he is scared to get on his moms bed side because he knows she will hurt him and not car
Mar 02, 2017 LeAnne rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 03, 2011 Josiah rated it liked it
Christopher Paul Curtis continually amazes me. He can tell a story so wild and crazy that the entire idea behind it seems totally outlandish and absurd, completely unbelievable, yet he is so skillful at finding ways to ground his characters in the bedrock of reality that, ultimately, the story doesn't feel all that far-fetched after all. There is no one like Christopher Paul Curtis.

At age fourteen, Luther finds himself in the unpaid (practically speaking, at least) employment of his mother, wh
Jan 22, 2010 Clare rated it it was amazing
It’s hard growing up in Flint, Michigan and even harder when your ambition is to be America’s most successful and wealthy philosopher. “Doing the right thing is like that, you get a strong feeling of relief, sort of like a giant rock has been lifted off your back. Or like the dump you take the day after you eat the ten-taco special from Los Aztecos.” Yet fourteen year-old-Luther T. Farrell has dreams and ambitions, and nothing, not even his mother, the Sarge, can stop him.

I kept laughing at Luth
Sep 03, 2013 Jessica rated it really liked it
Audiobooks are amazing---but usually when I read them it is solely for the dramatic, the sad, the creepy moments that amazing narrators bring to life. I can rarely recall an audiobook narrator that had me smiling and continuously laughing from dialogue and situations the character would experience. It was an almost a feel good book---almost.

This book covers a multitude of middle school issues from coming of age to understanding an impoverish society. It presents two solid viewpoints: Luther and
Mar 24, 2013 vaugnfreech rated it it was amazing
Bucking the Sarge is the book that recently gave me such euphoric satisfaction. No exxageration with that. Remember the book? It's one of those cheap books I bought beside the City Hall. Can't believe one of them was such a literary treasure.

So what's Bucking the Sarge all about? It's a story of plotting your plans for running away from the town you hated most. And meet its hero...Luther T. Farell...whose name's always mispronounced as Loser T. Farell. Laughs.

What made the book so funny is the f
Amber Lovett
Dec 30, 2014 Amber Lovett rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Curtis, Christopher Paul. Bucking the Sarge. 2004. 259 pp. $6.99. Wendy Lamb. 385-32307-7. Ages 13 & Up. Luther T. Farrell is different from a lot of teens in Flint, Michigan. For starters, he is working on his third first place medal in the High School science fair, hoping to beat his crush Shayla yet again. He also has a drivers license that says he’s eighteen, and he gets to drive and $80,000 van. But the biggest difference in Luther T. Farrell’s life is his mother, or the Sarge, who expe ...more
Oct 16, 2013 Lightbringer_merriman rated it it was amazing
I read this book in either middle school or high school, and some parts and scenes from it still come back to me, sticking with me. One part is this dynamic of cynicism versus hope. The Sarge has a cynical worldview, based on a very practical outlook at a world that's stacked the deck against them, so she's decided to lie and cheat and manipulate her way back. In a sad way, I found myself empathizing with her, especially her anger at a flawed, corrupt society. She didn't think she could beat the ...more
Oct 11, 2016 Christian rated it really liked it
I finished reading the book Bucking The Sarge a book with a Lexile range of 1000 by Christopher Paul Curtis, a Newbery Award winner. This is a story about a colored teenager with a very strict mother. In the beginning of the book he looses all the money in his wallet and works for his mom at an adult rehabilitation center. Luther must win the science fair to get out of Flint,Michigan and become the world's best known philosopher. He will need help from his friend Sparky and many more.

It takes pl
Nov 20, 2015 Jane rated it really liked it
Luther T. Farrell is in the 8th grade in Flint, Mchigan and divides his time between being an excellent student at school, he won the Science Fair 2 years in a row and is working on the 3rd year - and working for his Mom, who he calls Sarge.

Sarge owns and rents quite a bit of real-estate in Flint, runs a group home, where Luther lives and takes care of the sick men - Luther calls them the Crew, and loans people money - some say she is a loan shark.

Luther's best friend, Sparky, envy's Luther beca
Linda Lipko
Feb 03, 2011 Linda Lipko rated it liked it
Shelves: young-adult
In this ALA Best Book for YA winner of 2005, Christopher Paul Curtis once again provides the reader with a very likable host of characters. Curtis' trademark is to portray serious subjects with poignant humor, and this book follows that standard.

Unlike his other books, Curtis does not delve into historical content. In this modern day story Luther T. Farrell has some problems. First and foremost his mother, nicknamed by him as "The Sarge" is an angry, mean spirited greedy woman. Her tough as nail
Mar 02, 2016 Amy rated it liked it
This YA pick was another "Blind Date With a Book" from the library, and it definitely wasn't my cup of tea. I was actually all set to give it 2 stars right up until the end, because even though I found the characters believable, I just wasn't feeling the story for the first 200-ish pages (out of about 260). The last ~50 pages redeem the story significantly and were rather enjoyable, but it felt kind of rushed and incomplete (I would have liked another 20-30 pages that explored the outcome of Lut ...more
NS - Cami Houston
Sep 30, 2009 NS - Cami Houston rated it really liked it
9-12 grade audio- Fifteen-year-old wannabe philosopher Luther T. Farrell knows a few things about life. He knows the Sarge (his rich, shrewd, slumlord mom) is tougher than nails and that he better not cross her. He knows his chances of using Chauncey, the ancient condom in his wallet, are slim to none. And, he knows that despite his goal to attend Harvard, he may end up stuck in Flint, Michigan, cleaning toilets in his mom's loathsome empire. Luther spends much of his time helping the Sarge run ...more
Bobbie Davis
Bucking the Sarge Review
Luther T. Farrell seems to have it all, credit card, money; even a driver’s license (albeit phony) at only 15 years old and his best friend Sparky certainly never lets him forget it. On the downside for Luther is Sarge, his greedy, nasty mother who is quite the slum lord and has the group home racket pretty well sealed up.
Luther just wants to win the science fair this year, he’ll be able to head off to college and be a great philosopher. The only thing standing in his wa
Jun 09, 2008 Katie rated it liked it
Shelves: teen, for-guys, humor
Deeply involved in his cold and manipulative mother's shady business dealings in Flint, Michigan, fourteen-year-old Luther keeps a sense of humor while running the Happy Neighbor Group Home For Men, all the while dreaming of going to college and becoming a philosopher.

How would you feel if you were 15 years old, lived in Flint, Michigan, had a mom who was a slum lord and made you work at least 40 hours a week on top of going to school? On top of that your job entails cleaning up nasty apartments
Int'l librarian
Funniest one-liners of the year thus far. The narrator, 15-year-old Luther Farrell, has a hugely inflated sense of self, and is the target of most of the jokes. He’s guardian of a haggard crew of senior citizens in Flint, Michigan. The old guys are hilarious: easily bribed with ice cream and TV, and just coherent enough to get their digs in.

There’s a sinister side to this story as well. Luther works for his mom, a heartless slumlord and loan shark. Luther dreams of righting her wrongs, but he s
Feb 13, 2017 Carrie rated it really liked it
Although this book was tagged as humorous, humor is only a thin veneer over the hard truths about life in the ghettos Mr. Curtis wants to make you aware of.
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Curtis was born in Flint, Michigan on May 10, 1953 to Dr. Herman Elmer Curtis, a chiropodist, and Leslie Jane Curtis, an educator. The city of Flint plays an important role in many of Curtis's books. One such example is Bucking the Sarge, which is about a fifteen year old boy named Luther T. Ferrel, who is in a running battle with his slum-lord mother. Curtis is an alumnus of the University of Mic ...more
More about Christopher Paul Curtis...

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“Things aren't ever what they seem to be when you first look at them. What's important is that you keep your mind wide open and try to understand what's going on from a lot of different angles.” 5 likes
“You know, there's something especially lonely about a gold medal hanging all by itself on a bedroom wall, something that says "fluke," or "beginner's luck," or "one in a million," but two gold medals, now that says something completely different. That says, "Oh, yeah, baby, this is the real deal!” 4 likes
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