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The Next Great Paulie Fink

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When Caitlyn Breen enters the tiny Mitchell School in rural Mitchell, Vermont, she is a complete outsider: the seventh grade has just ten other kids, and they've known each other since kindergarten. Her classmates are in for a shock of their own: Paulie Fink--the class clown, oddball, troublemaker, and evil genius--is gone this year.

As stories of Paulie's hijinks unfold, his legend builds, until they realize there's only one way to fill the Paulie-sized hole in their class. They'll find their next great Paulie Fink through a reality-show style competition, to be judged by the only objective person around: Caitlyn, who never even met Paulie Fink. Who was this kid, anyway--prankster, performance artist, philosopher, or fool? Caitlyn's quest to understand Paulie is about to teach her more about herself than she ever imagined.

Told via multiple voices, interviews, and other documents, The Next Great Paulie Fink is a lighthearted yet surprisingly touching exploration of how we build up and tear down our own myths... about others, our communities, and ourselves.

368 pages, Hardcover

First published April 16, 2019

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About the author

Ali Benjamin

14 books520 followers
Ali Benjamin has written for the Boston Globe Magazine, Martha Stewart's Whole Living, and Sesame Street. She is the co-writer for HIV+ teen Paige Rawl's coming-of-age memoir, Positive, which will be a lead title for Harper Teen this coming Fall, and which will feature an introduction by Jay Asher. She is a member of the New England Science Writers. - See more at: http://www.hachettebookgroup.com/titl...

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5 stars
763 (32%)
4 stars
1,059 (45%)
3 stars
407 (17%)
2 stars
80 (3%)
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31 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 439 reviews
Profile Image for Hannah Greendale.
696 reviews3,264 followers
Shelved as 'dnf'
March 12, 2019
DNF at page 100. This is unfocused and lacks intrigue. A significant departure from the depth, insight, and emotional gravity of The Thing About Jellyfish.
Profile Image for Laura Gardner.
1,669 reviews108 followers
June 14, 2019
"Everything we know is always incomplete. In the end, we get to fully know exactly one person only: ourselves. And that's only if we work hard at it."
⚠️: do not read this book unless you want to giggle uncontrollably and be filled with joy. It’s filled with unconventional fun, heartwarming situations and GOATS. I warned you!
The newest book by @alibenjamin, THE NEXT GREAT PAULIE FINK is my favorite sort of #mglit book. I was completely absorbed in the school-based story of Caitlyn's experience in a new small, rural school in VT where everyone misses their classmate Paulie Fink who was a ridiculous prankster. Caitlyn is put in charge of a reality TV show-style competition to find the next great Paulie Fink, but along the way she discovers truths about herself and others and ultimately the power of stories -- those we tell and the parts we leave out. Don't miss this book! Thanks to my student Jesse who gave me the final push I needed to pick it up.
Side note: this book also addresses the very real problem of rural schools closing and consolidating.
Book 2 for #30booksummer !!
#librariansofinstagram #librariesofinstagram #mglit #mgbooks #ilovemg #readaroundmg #bookstagram #bookreview #amreading
Profile Image for ملیکا خوش‌نژاد.
326 reviews34 followers
November 15, 2022
درسته که هیچ کتابی نمی‌تونه به‌پای «عروس دریایی» برسه، اما این هم درسته که هیچی جز ادبیات نوجوان نمی‌تونه این‌طور اشکم رو دربیاره و قلبم رو شفاف و درخشان کنه‌. این کتاب هم البته که همین کار رو با من کرد. چی شگفت‌انگیزتر از معلمی که دربارهٔ جامعه و دموکراسی و فلسفه و اساطیر یونانی با بچه‌ها حرف می‌زنه و این کار رو با چنان خلاقیت زیبایی انجام می‌ده که همهٔ بچه‌ها با عمق و جان غار افلاطون رو زندگی می‌کنن و مفهوم دموکراسی رو یاد می‌گیرن و فضیلت شجاعت رو تمرین می‌کنن؟ کاش منم در مدرسه‌ای شبیه مدرسهٔ میچل درس می‌خوندم‌(یا درس می‌دادم) و سر کلاس علوم می‌رفتیم به بزها غذا می‌دادیم و موقع ناهار کنار بچه‌های کوچیک‌تر می‌نشستیم. ذره ذرهٔ این کتاب پر از مفاهیم دوست‌داشتنی و انسانی و زیبا بود و بهترین موقع برای خوندنش هم همین الان بود تا بهم یادآوری بشه:
«شجاعت همون چیزیه که شما قبلاً نشون داده‌اید. یعنی یک پا رو جلوی پای دیگه گذاشتن و جلو رفتن.»
Profile Image for Larnacouer  de SH.
686 reviews151 followers
March 31, 2020
Sırf bu yıl hedefime bakınca yarım bıraktığım kitap görmek istemediğim için kendimi zorlayarak tamamladım eski ben ilk yarıda acımadan fırlatmıştım net.

Allah affetsin ama acayip sıkıcı, insanı o kadar sarrrrrmıyor ki inanamazsınız şoktayım.

Olmamış, önermiyorum.
Profile Image for Amy | Foxy Blogs.
1,374 reviews963 followers
June 22, 2022
4.75 STARS

Caitlyn is the new girl in a small rural town where she’ll be starting 7th grade. She’s not thrilled about this move from New York to Vermont.

On her first day at school, she keeps hearing about Paulie Fink. Paulie was a jokester who made school fun. In his former classmate's minds, he's a legend.

Paulie never showed up for 7th grade and no one knows why.

The Next Great Paulie Fink is told in multiple voices and interviews. Listening to different people from the school share their experiences with Paulie adds to his bigger-than-life personality.

To see who gets to be the next legendary classmate the 7th-grade class is doing a reality show-type contest amongst themselves to see who will fill his shoes. Since Caitlyn is the new girl and didn't know Paulie she'll be the judge. And she gets to come up with the activities they'll do to compete.

The book also has goats in it. The goats add a fun dynamic for the school kids as they have to take care of them as the goats work on clearing their school field so they can use it for a sports competition against a school from a bigger city.

The school also has the real possibility of closing down because of a lack of funds. By the time the reader learns this they are rooting for the school to keep its doors open. And Caitlyn goes from not wanting to attend this school to discovering the charm of attending a rural school where everyone knows everyone.

The Next Great Paulie Fink is a fun book to read. And if you are wondering what happened to Paulie Fink, the reader finds out by the end of the book. No worries, it isn't anything bad.
Audiobook source: Libby
Narrator: Cassandra Morris, Zach Villa, Cameron Bowen, & Adam McArthur
Length: 7H 12M
Profile Image for Kasra Shahedi.
42 reviews
May 25, 2022
این کتاب فوق‌العاده بود و به جرئت ، از زمین تا آسمون با کتاب a thing about jellyfish فرق می‌کرد! لحن نویسنده، سوژه داستانی و شخصیت‌ها و حرفاشون چاشنی طنز داشت و داستان رو خیلی جذاب کرده بود. اما هیچی نمی‌تونه جای عروس دریایی رو برای من بگیره:) ولی این کتاب هم به شدت خوندنی و لذت بخش بود.

پ.ن: این کتاب دوتا ترجمه داره. یکی ترجمه‌ی نشر پرتقال و اون یکی هم نشر افق. ترجمه نشر پرتقال ترجمه خوب و خوش‌خوانی نیست اما ترجمه نشر افق شگفت‌انگیزه! خانم آشتیانی تو ترجمه این کتاب گل کاشتن و خیلی خوب عمل کردن!
Profile Image for Tami.
558 reviews6 followers
July 4, 2019
The Next Great Paulie Fink is a confusing story. Our main character is Caitlyn, who, having moved with her mother from upstate New York to Mitchell, Vermont, is starting 7th Grade at a small rural school. The school is located in an old mansion--instead of a typical school building. All grades are housed in the same building since it's such a small town. There are only 10 other students in Caitlyn's entire 7th grade class. On the first day of school the other students discover that not only do they have a NEW student (Caitlyn), one of their classmates (Paulie Fink) has NOT returned this year. No one knows why. Her classmates regale Caitlyn with stories about Paulie and his antics in the classroom and somehow the students decide it would be a good idea to hold a reality TV-like contest to choose the "Next Great Paulie Fink." Inexplicably, they choose Caitlyn to be in charge of the competition. She proceeds to set "challenges" for the class in which they must display specific aspects of Paulie's personality, with one student being eliminated after each challenge.

Sound weird? It is. The story is confusing and so is the structure of the book. The story is told through a mishmash of voices, sometimes Caitlyn in the present, sometimes various students in the class through a supposed 'interview' Caitlyn conducted after the completion of their competition, and sometimes through emails from teachers or the Principal.

This book frustrates me for a number of reasons: (1) I almost chucked it in the Didn't Finish pile because the story is organized so poorly and I couldn't get a handle on any of the characters OR the actual plot for about the first 100 pages; (2) all the kids' voices sound very similar so it's hard to know who's talking unless you pay attention the structure of the page, or the font of the words; (3) The premise is patently ridiculous--the idea that in a town so small (852 people) that there are only 11 students in the 7th Grade (the highest grade in the school so far) the kids would NOT know that Paulie--and presumably his family--has left over the summer is laughable; and (4) Caitlyn's story has so much potential when she starts speaking a little more about her behavior in her previous middle school that it irritates me it was not fleshed out and made the focal point of the book.

We find out more about Caitlyn after slogging through the first 100 pages. We discover that when she started middle school last year she found herself in unfamiliar territory. She looked for a way to navigate the social situation that develops in that environment. She determined that the best way to do so was to belong to a group. This meant that she was consistently cruel to one specific girl (Anna) in order to ally herself with a larger group to avoid being in Anna's social position. At the Mitchell School Caitlyn begins to consider her behavior toward Anna in a different light. The reader has access to the insecurity and abject fear that often motivates the hurtful, bullying behavior of individuals.

I watched the way she turned her locker dial slowly, hoping no one would notice that she didn't have anyone to talk to. Everything she did wrong reassured me. I mean, maybe I didn't know how to be...but at least I knew more than Anna did.

I guess I wanted her to know that, too. Because I started doing things. Maybe I'd get my friends to stare at her. ...We'd keep our eyes on her until she looked up. Then we'd laugh. Not because she was doing anything funny, but because we wanted her to know she was someone people laughed at.

This story is one with which many middle school readers can identify: yes, I have ugly thoughts sometimes but I can choose how I behave toward other people. Unfortunately, this story is left in bits and pieces around the ridiculous Paulie Fink contest.

Don't get me wrong, the Paulie Fink story could absolutely work on its own as a light, fun, silly story. But Caitlyn's story and the Paulie Fink story just don't go together. The author never succeeds in weaving all the disparate elements of the book into any kind of cohesive narrative. Sadly, The Next Great Paulie Fink is a confusing--and consequently irritating--jumble of ideas and images that never really organize themselves into the kind of story I expect from Ali Benjamin. I will not be recommending this one to readers of any age.
Profile Image for Ali.
86 reviews1 follower
October 10, 2020
Ne diyeceğimi bilmiyorum. Yazarın Hayalet Kalp adlı kitabı bu hayatta en sevdiğim kitaplardan biriydi o yüzden büyük beklenti içerisindeydim bu kitabı içinde ama yinede ne olur ne olmaz beklentimi düşük tuttum başlarken. Aslında iyi de oldu çünkü hikaye öyle farklı ki bildiğimiz kurgulardan, iyice anlayıp bu kadın ne anlatıyor demeden sadece okumak gerekiyordu kitabı. Ancak sona geldiğimizde her şeyin, küçücük detayların bile, bu şekilde toparlanması ve finali çok tatmin ediciydi.

Şöyle ki eğer çocukların başrolde olduğu kitaplar okumayı seviyorsanız bu yazara kesinlikle güvenmelisiniz. Çünkü onları bu kadar iyi anlayıp kitaba aktaran başka yazar görmedim daha. Neden çocuklar ile ilgili bir çocuk kitabı okuyayım diyorsanız da yine çok şey kaçırdığınızı düşünürüm çünkü yazarın kitapları herkese hitap eden ve size çocuk olmayı hatırlatacak cinsten. Özellikle bu kitap keşke benimde böyle bir çocukluğum olsa, keşke böyle arkadaşlarım, böyle bir okulum olsa dedirten, en azından keşke çocuk olsaydım diye beni düşündüren bir kitap.

Övmelere doyamadım ama neden övdüğümü söylersek tema başta gelir. Arkadaşlık, hayattaki amacımız, kötülük ile komiklik arasındaki ayrım, her zaman süpriz faktörünü seçmek ve en önemlisi insanları hatta tarihi bile tam olarak tanıyamayacağımızla ilgili. Anlattığı Eski Yunan hikâyeleri, onların kelimeleri ve dünyayı etkileyişi, hayatı sorgulama şeklinin hala bize mantıklı gelmesini kurguya çok güzel dahil etmişti yazar. Bitirince dolu bir tebessüm ile ne güzel kitaplar var dedirten bir son.

Yani demem o ki farklı bir kitap okumak istiyorsanız kesinlikle bir şans verin, sonuna kadar okuyun. İyiki varsın Ali Benjamin 🧡
Profile Image for Bart Moeyaert.
Author 109 books1,352 followers
May 12, 2020
Caitlyn Breen, die pas nieuw is op school, wordt er door haar klasgenoten ongeveer elke minuut aan herinnerd: jij hebt Paulie Fink niet gekend. Verleden jaar zat hij nog bij hen in de klas. Hij was de zon en de peper en het kwik. De nar, de kwajongen, het genie, de kunstenaar.

De klas hoopt het gemis weg te werken door een nieuwe Paulie te vinden. Dat doen ze aan de hand van het format van een heel populaire realityshow, en nieuwkomer Caitlyn krijgt de taak van jurylid.

Ali Benjamin schreef eerder ‘Suzy en de kwallen’, waarin ze op een slimme manier een verhaal van gemis en verdriet linkte aan Suzy’s passie voor (weetjes over) kwallen. Dit principe — het consequent verweven van een thema met een kenniselement — past de schrijfster in ‘Op zoek naar Paulie Fink’ opnieuw toe, en ze gaat er nog een stap verder in.

De leerkrachten staan voor de klas en geven de leerlingen les over de Griekse Oudheid of Shakespeare. Een wijsheid van een filosoof of een quote van William wordt dan als bij toeval meegenomen in de beslissingen die Caitlyn neemt.

Het boek leest als een realityshow, met korte en lange interviews, sms-gesprekken, snelle scènewissels. De personages lijken gekozen zoals de kandidaten voor een reality-show bij elkaar worden gezet, met de stereotypen als de brutale bitch, de weirdo, de sportman, het alternatieve meisje.

Ik hou ervan me te verliezen in een boek. Ik verander graag van schrijver in alleen maar lezer. In dit geval ben ik de bladzijden bestuderend en ontledend blijven omslaan. Het bloed wilde bij mij maar niet gaan stromen, en natuurlijk frustreerde me dat. Niettemin weet ik wel zeker dat veel lezers van deze nieuwe Ali Benjamin zullen genieten.

‘Op zoek naar Paulie Fink’ is uit het Engels vertaald door Lidwien Biekmann.
Profile Image for Sam (she_who_reads_).
621 reviews15 followers
June 7, 2019
This book was so much fun! From the antics of the “Great Paulie Fink” to the disastrous goats, to the incredible characters inhabiting this school- every page gave me something to smile (or laugh out loud) about! This book follows Caitlyn as she starts the first day of seventh grade at a new school. Not only is this school much smaller than her old one, but the kids in her grade are reeling after discovering Paulie Fink isn’t returning. There are some fantastic ideas and themes explored, and I think a lot of readers will find something important to take away from this story. If you’re looking for a fun read, that will also teach you something, this is the book for you!
Profile Image for Manon.
1,420 reviews25 followers
June 23, 2019
This book was so good! I really enjoyed how the main character dealt with all the problems in this one.
Profile Image for Kassie.
309 reviews2 followers
June 19, 2019
I laughed out loud! This is a really fun book! And deep...

Yes, it's deepness is different from The Thing About Jellyfish (which I will always love!), but it's still wonderful! It made me question the world: how we treat others, what makes them "tick," and if our version of them (and ourselves) are at all accurate. Maybe our most embarrassing moments aren't as embarrassing as we think. Maybe that "weird" kid that doesn't talk to anyone isn't avoiding people because she's "too good for them," but because she's shy and doesn't know how to join-in on the fun. Told with fun and sometimes wacky characters, Ali Benjamin takes you back to when you were in awkward 7th grade when peer acceptance was everything.

But who says we have to follow the rules of who's cool and who's not? Why can't a jock be friends with a nerd? Let's dance and cheer one another on. Ring the good-day bell. And make life meaningful and memorable. In other words... carpe diem!

If you like Dead Poet's Society or The Breakfast Club, you'll love this book!
Profile Image for PinkAmy loves books, cats and naps .
2,286 reviews216 followers
January 21, 2020

Caitlin cannot believe her mother made her move from New York to a small town in Vermont with only 11 kids in 7th grade. Her classmates seem disappointed that she’s not their peer Paulie Fink, who seems to have disappeared. Paulie, class clown and troublemaker rolled into one, is sorely missed and the class sets out to find THE NEXT GREAT PAULIE FINK.

Caitlin is a complicated character, a bully at her former school, insecure and unhappy in Vermont. Her journey of self discovery and acceptance is not without setbacks and frustrations. At times she’s not a nice person and though she feels bad about bullying, she never truly accepts responsibility or apologizes. She grows considerably, but still has a way to go.

THE NEXT GREAT PAULIE FINK will be enjoyed by almost all MG readers.
Profile Image for Sarah.
1,700 reviews42 followers
November 28, 2018
This book is a lot of fun! The rather unrealistic story of one memorable class of seventh grade students, their teachers, and their idolized former classmate. Although many of the events in the book are quite far-fetched the characters' reactions are extremely plausible. Additionally, at the heart of the book is an important message about the way we view others and the way our perceptions are limited. I especially appreciated how one clever teacher managed to incorporate Ancient Greek history into her lessons and, in turn, into this novel.
Although this book bears no resemblance to The Thing About Jellyfish, Ali Benjamin has managed, yet again, to flex her writing prowess in the form of a middle grade novel that both delights and educates.
Profile Image for Tamara York.
1,025 reviews16 followers
September 6, 2021
I loved The Thing About Jellyfish, so I was so excited to find an ARC of this at the library book sale. It was just fantastic. A wonderful book about middle school and all of the feelings that kids have as they adjust to a new school, new friends, and legends left behind by former students. The story is set in an eccentric small town school in an old mansion, with goats. It’s a school that every reader would want to attend. The characters are vivid, unique, and fun. You root for these kids. I can’t recommend this enough. So good.
Profile Image for Maedeh Dabiri.
64 reviews
June 2, 2022
تا نصف بیشتر کتاب همه چیز خسته کننده‌ست.
دویست و خرده‌ای صفحه تکرار مکررات می‌خونی.
همون شخصیت‌ها و همون موضوع، بدون هیچ تحول و اتفاقی.
فقط و فقط صد صفحه آخر و یک‌سری از بخش‌های کتاب که درباره اسطوره و فلسفه بود ارزش وقت گذاشتن رو داشت.
با این حال بخش تفکر برانگیز زیادی داشت اما باز هم تحمل این همه کش دادن و جزئیات بی‌نیاز واقعاً فرد صبوری رو می‌خواد.
تا ساعت‌ها می‌تونم از نکات مثبت و منفی این کتاب بگم (از نظر شخصی)
گاهی اوقات حرف خودم رو هم نقض می‌کنم.
پس بهتره که سکوت کنم و این کتاب رو با تمام خوبی و بدیش رها کنم.
Profile Image for Kristen Beverly.
1,132 reviews41 followers
January 12, 2019
I think this will be a great book for its target audience - middle graders and will be a bit more difficult for older fans of the author to read. It’s got a lot of really great lessons for kids.
Profile Image for Kimberly.
394 reviews8 followers
June 3, 2021
FIVE HUGE LOUD STARS for this book. I wasn't sure what I was getting into when I picked this up, but I couldn't put this one down. I cried a couple times and literally clapped when it was over because I wanted to give the book and the characters (and Paulie Fink) a standing ovation. This is a book that will make you think and examine life and I absolutely recommend it.
Profile Image for Connie D.
1,468 reviews45 followers
February 9, 2020
A friend recommended this to me. When that happens, you always expect more from a book right away, so I was sad that I struggled with it at the beginning.

That's because I started listening to disc 2 instead of disc 1! I thought, wow, this author expects a lot from her readers!

Once I started reading the book in order, I loved it.

Entertaining and poignant!

Caitlin arrives in a new small town and a new very unusual school expecting the worst. When she walks in, her new classmates are also expecting someone different - the great Paulie Fink, who always kept life exciting and surprising.

This book is mostly from Caitlin's point of view, but also includes interviews with classmates and other notes. It's about adjusting to new worlds: the class trying to survive without Paulie Fink and Caitlin trying to adjust to her surroundings. But it's also about rereading old stories: Caitlin reassessing her past, her classmates remembering Paulie Fink, discovering differences.

It's also about creating new myths and new identities. The class decides to have a contest to find out who will be the Next Great Paulie Fink, based on reality TV, which gets good, silly, and occasionally emotional.

Ali Benjamin did such a lovely job of interweaving the teacher's lessons about Greek philosophy into the story. What a great teacher -- we all learned a great deal from Mags!

Don't be put off by learning something, though! Just enjoy the ride!

Profile Image for Heather Moore.
543 reviews4 followers
September 19, 2021
2021: Audiobook with my 14 year year old for our kids book club. This book was an even better read for me the second time around. There were some nuances that passed by me that I really enjoyed catching this time, and my daughter, of course, adored this book. One of the other things that struck me was what a great choice it made for a book club get together — we had the kids duel in Shakespeare insults, create their own box pun images, and find something funny to do with a banana peel. Once the contest was over, they worked together to build their own Paulie statue and make up their own dances. All in all, it was a super fun day celebrating a great book.

2019: What a great story for the middle school years! Not only is it quirky and fun, but it also tackles topics like fitting in and finding your place and what it means to do that with integrity. Reading this book, I couldn’t help but think of the kid who got picked on in my own middle school, and wondered if reading a book like this would’ve made me brave enough to befriend her all those years ago. I wish I would’ve made that choice. It’s not often you come across a book that helps kids to see outside of themselves in such a way as this. Highly recommend.
Profile Image for b ü ş r a .
238 reviews8 followers
March 13, 2021
Sıradaki Müthiş Paulie Fink okuduğum en eğlenceli, en öğretici ve sıradışı bir kitaptı. Caitlyn'in yeni okulundaki arkadaşlarına alışması biraz zordu. Çünkü uzun zamandır birlikte olan bir grubun arasına sonradan girmek ister istemez zaman alır. Özellikle bu gruptan biri yeni ayrıldıysa ve o kişi yani Paulie herkes tarafından kahraman ve yaramaz bir öğrenci veya arkadaş olarak biliniyorsa.
Caitlyn tüm zorluklara rağmen güzel bir iş çıkardı. Gün geçtikçe eski okulundaki arkadaşlarını düşünüyor onlara mesaj atıyor fakat istediği sonucu elde edemiyordu, eski arkadaşları onu çoktan unutmuş. Bu kısımda içim acımış olabilir, insanın arkadaş kategorisine soktuğu belirli kişilerin aslında senin hissettiklerinden çok farklı bir konumda olmaları ortaya çıkınca kalp kırabilir. Caitlyn'i çok iyi anladım ve üzüldüm fakat Caitlyn karakter gereği güçlü biri. Zamanla yeni okuluna ve arkadaşlarına alışmaya başladı, onlara uyum sağladı ve 'yeni öğrenci' konumundan tırnaklarını kazıyarak kurtuldu.
Bu tarz iç ısıtan sevimli kitapları okumayı seviyorum, okuyucunun yüreğine dokunuyor. Okumanızı öneririm 🥰🌟
Profile Image for Nathan Bartos.
911 reviews43 followers
August 6, 2021
This was a cute middle grade about being different, feeling like an outsider, bullying (from a bully's perspective, which was cool), and shenanigans. Unfortunately, I think my major problem is that my expectations weren't met. I expected a lot of the book to revolve around the reality tv-style competition, which in a way it did, but it didn't really go all the way for me. I'll likely be recommending this to kids, but it won't be at the top of my list as I wasn't ever in a "have to pick this back up ASAP" mood.
Profile Image for Erin Entrada Kelly.
Author 22 books1,445 followers
June 21, 2019
Likable misfit characters. Relatable MC. A fun read with an excellent premise.
Profile Image for Melissa Green.
103 reviews6 followers
June 20, 2019
“Sometimes ordinary people do crummy things. That’s just the truth of it. They do things that they’ll wish later they could undo. And they’ll just be stuck with them forever.”

Caitlyn Breen, a seventh grader, has just moved across the country to a new school. She doesn’t quite know how to fit in because at this school the kids help take care of goats, learn about philosophers, and take care of the kids in younger grades at lunch. However, the other seventh graders keep talking about a kid who used to go to school with them, Paulie Fink. Paulie is legendary. He pulled off all sorts of pranks and made school interesting. Now that he is gone, the students don’t know what to do. In a strange set of events, Caitlyn is now the one who will decide who gets to be the next Paulie Fink. With each challenge, Caitlyn learns more about Paulie and herself. Who will end up becoming the next great Paulie Fink?

Ali Benjamin has done it again. Thought-provoking and imaginative, The Next Great Paulie Fink is sure to teach us all a life lesson or two no matter your age. I thoroughly enjoyed this story and found these young characters very relatable. Growing up and learning how you fit in the world is always a challenge and something that we are all navigating throughout our lives. However, I think the lesson that stuck out the most is that we are all flawed and yet have potential. Even though we make mistakes, we can all learn and grow into better people.
Profile Image for Heidi.
2,638 reviews52 followers
January 6, 2020
After hearing so much about this book I decided I finally needed to read it. And while I didn't love it, I did find it enjoyable. My favorite parts involved reading about the rather unusual school that main character Caitlyn Breen finds herself attending as the story opens. Having moved with her mother to a very small town in Maine, Caitlyn is very unhappy to find herself attending a new school. She's especially baffled when she discovers that her new classmates seem obsessed with a student that no longer attends the school, Paulie Fink. As her classmates fill her in on Paulie's pranks, Caitlyn struggles to make sense of her new environment and her place in it. With goats, impossible-to-win soccer games, and a threatened school closure all playing a role, Caitlyn and her classmates set out to find a new Paulie Fink through their own made-up version of a reality TV show. With Caitlyn as the judge, the other students compete to prove they can be just as unique as Paulie Fink. Caitlyn meanwhile has to come to terms with having her internal rules turned on their head.

To be honest, I didn't like Caitlyn a whole lot when the story began. Her priorities are clear : being popular is more important than being kind. I did feel sorry for her as the story went on though and she tried to make sense of her new school and classmates who didn't fit into her ideas of what school and friendship should be. It was nice to see her start to change as she got to know her classmates and teachers. The ideas and stories from Ancient Greece that Caitlyn's new teacher uses make for an interesting side note in Caitlyn's shifting thinking. A book that I found different and unique, but not one that I fell in love with.
Profile Image for Sally Sugarman.
235 reviews3 followers
April 15, 2019
This book came highly recommended and as I started it I hoped I would like it. No problem. It was even more wonderful than I was led to expect. It was the point late in the book when I was crying that I realized it had everything that makes a book worth reading. One of its strengths is the variety of presentations with interviews interposed with a personal narrative so that we get to know all the characters beyond the main narrator Caitlyn Breen on our own. Caitlyn finds herself entering a weird broken down small school in Vermont. Her mother has moved to a new job in Vermont and seventh grader Caitlyn feels an outsider particularly when she is given stories of an eccentric student who has disappeared. The school is in a town that has lost its major industry and is a substitute for the public school that had to be closed for lack of funds. There are ten seventh graders, most of whom have been in the school since kindergarten. It is a world completely alien to Caitlyn. How she and the situation changes over time is the story. Meanwhile, both the students and the reader get to know a great deal about Greek mythology and history and how it applies to the contemporary world. This is one of those books that you read in one sitting as it deals easily with so many important issues while creating a world of delightful individuals.
Profile Image for Ece.
92 reviews9 followers
February 13, 2020
Kelimenin tam anlamıyla mü-kem-mel bir kitap 😍 Bayıldım!!!!
Hikâye anlatıcılığını bu kadar yalın ama iç ısıtan bir şekilde vermesi, yazarın kaleminin gücünü kanıtlıyor.
Mitler, arkadaşlıklar ve tarih “olmak” üzerine; anda kalabilmek ve gördüğümüzün sadece hikâyenin bir bölümü olduğunu unutmamaktan ibaret.
2020’nin favorileri arasına girdi bile.
İnsanda, kendi mağarasından çıkma cesaretini doğuruyor. Ve içimizdeki taşın ağırlığından kurtulmak.
Profile Image for Monica Edinger.
Author 10 books336 followers
November 8, 2018
I enjoyed this. Liked the idea of the absent Paulie being revered and the clever notion of a contest to replace him. Completely engaging and an entertaining read.
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