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Rachel Spinelli Punched Me in the Face

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  194 ratings  ·  52 reviews
Zachary's mom just up and disappeared from their home in Copper Lake, Colorado. The good news is that Zachary and his dad are trying to move on, and Falls, Connecticut is just the place for a fresh start. With the help of a new friend, Rachel, and her brother Teddy, Zachary is learning about new beginnings, the power of forgiveness, and the quirky people that make life int ...more
Hardcover, 176 pages
Published August 30th 2011 by Roaring Brook Press
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Average rating 3.84  · 
Rating details
 ·  194 ratings  ·  52 reviews

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Amira Zaidat
Oct 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the most amazing book so far. It is funny and incredible. Rachel is very aggressive while Teddy is very soft and somehow needed to be watch out. And Zachary is the new boy who plays trumpet. This story is really funny. Paul must be really amazing to write a story which is soooo funny like this one.
Jan 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I sincerely enjoyed this well crafted, well rounded novel right from the get go. A cast of inventive characters had me laughing out loud one minute, and pausing to re-read a beautiful moment the next. The bit of wisdom I took from this one? - Life is full of change, so let it flow and see where this magical river takes you.

Another plus - I could hand this book to any of the kids in my life without a breath of hesitation. Thank you for that!
Aug 01, 2014 rated it liked it
Some parts of this story were clever and charming - and who could resist the title? (I do prefer the yellow jacket cover on mine to the one pictured here, though.)

Some pros:
The main character's mother leaves the family at the beginning of the book and he's dealing with the hurt of that, as is his father. Although a missing parent is often overdone in literature for this age level, I think the treatment here is natural and handled well.

I believed in the community members. I like the idea of book
Lee Anne
Dec 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Loved, loved, loved this book!!!
Jan 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Funny story of 14 year olds
Aug 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Really fun book for 5-8 grade boys. Love the theme of being friends with all sorts of people, living in a small town, and getting through a parents divorce.
Nov 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It’s like if the books Stargirl and The Tiger Rising had a baby. I loved this book and will totally recommend this to my students. Especially to the boys.
Zach Dornfeld
U thought it was a very relatable book that made me interested and laugh. I had a good time reading this book.
Jul 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
I really like Paul Acampora! This is a good read for young teens...or, in my case, old ladies. lol
Jul 14, 2020 rated it it was ok
Too many issues tackled - some too much for younger readers and some too little for older students.
Sep 17, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: teen
had a really hard time finishing this book. First off, Rachel and Zachary are supposed to 14, but they really don't sound like it. I felt like I was reading about a bunch of little kids--and the adults treat them like they're younger. For example, after they've been in town for a few months, Zachary's dad gives him and Teddy a ride, and this is what happens:
"Dad pointed at the glass door that led into the police department on the right. 'I'm going there.' Then he pointed toward a set of old, wo
Melissa Wehunt
This was actually much better than I expected. I found this story to be charming and easygoing. I can't really say I laughed out loud...but I did chuckle a few times.


1. Boy read. Good for boys...good boy narrator that is smart and clever and sweet.

2. Clever, easygoing, charming conversations. This book, like some ya's has a ton of conversation in it. But at least these conversations we're pretty entertaining to read. And to me, they sounded authentic...rather than making me feel like rol
Ms. Yingling
Feb 15, 2012 rated it liked it

Zachary and his father live in a rusted out trailed in Colorado, but after Zachary's mother runs off to work on a cruise ship, the two decide to move to Connecticut, where Zachary's father gets a job as the local policeman. The Spinellis are new neighbors, and Zachary soon takes to Rachel, even though she is harboring a lot of anger about her developmentally delayed brother Teddy and has a habit of getting into fights. There are many interesting people in town-- Rachel's family runs a diner in t
This quick read is jam packed with great snippets. Zachary and his dad are alone now- Mom decided to follow her dream to work a cruise ship and took off one morning. Now the men of the Beatrice family must decide what to do.
"What do you want?" I asked my father.
"I want us to be happy." he told me.
"That's all?"
"That would be enough."
......"Happy would be nice," I said, "let's try it."

So the duo are off to Falls, Connecticut. Zachary to high school and Dad as the police officer of the small town.
Steve Shea
Dec 23, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kids-lit
This was a delightful, quick, young-at-heart read. Acampora threads the needle between literary merit that adult readers might look for and youthful brevity and directness that appeal to less-mature readers, or people who might like to enjoy a complete story in under a week. Kids who read this may start because it's got a great title, stick with it because they love the characters, and emerge from it piecing together everything they read in more complex ways. At 168 YA-formatted (about 1 1/2 lin ...more
Jun 16, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: teen
Zachary and his dad move to Falls, Connecticut, to start over after Zachary's mom left. Zachary is looking forward to the change.

Life in Falls, Connecticut is very different. First, they live in a house, not a trailer. Everyone knows everyone else. Then there's Rachel Spinelli. Rachel, her dad, and her brother Teddy live across the street. Rachel wants Zachary to know to treat her brother right. Teddy is special, but Zachary doesn't mind spending time with him and being his friend.

Nothing is wha
"What do you want?" I asked my father.
"I want us to be happy." he told me.
"That's all?"
"That would be enough."
......"Happy would be nice," I said, "let's try it."

But Copper Canyon, Colorado, is a bleak place with unhappy memories. This is the town where Zachary’s mom abandoned her husband and child to pursue her dreams of travel and excitement.

So the two head for Falls, Connecticut, where Zachary enters high school and his Dad becomes the police officer for the small town. Falls is populated wit
Dec 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
When Zach’s mother decides to leave the family, his father decides to abandon a tired Midwestern life behind and begin again in a small Connecticut town. This is a realistic and heartwarming story of Zach’s transition into this new life. Two new friends make life meaningful for Zach – Rachel Spinelli, protective younger sister, and Teddy Spinelli, a highly functioning developmentally delayed high school trumpeteer. Rachel and Zach at times seem younger than 14, but this youngness would make them ...more
Brindi Michele
this was great! I marked this TBR years ago bc I liked the title and needed to get a few reader's advisory books for young boys under my belt, but I kept putting it off. finally picked it up, and I'm annoyed I didn't read this sooner bc I would have been recommending this book like crazy. the writing and dialog was fantastic, and all of the characters had depth (even the minor supporting ones). Zachary 's dad was my favorite. it dealt with multiple tough issues, but did so in a very straight-for ...more
Apr 18, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kind of a "glossy" approach to big changes like mom leaving and moving across the country, but you take an instant liking to Zachary as well as Rachel and her brother.

"Zachary’s mom just up and disappeared from their home in Copper Lake, Colorado. The good news is that Zachary and his dad are trying to move on, and Falls, Connecticut, is just the place for a fresh start. With the help of a new friend, Rachel, and her brother Teddy, Zachary is learning about new beginnings, the power of forgivene
Oct 09, 2013 rated it liked it
Diverse Bodies and Brains Novel - Week 8

This book was decent, in my opinion. It started off very slowly, but did eventually pick up the pace. There was a disconnect between the age the characters were stated to be and how they acted and were treated. It was a good read as it discussed the separation of the parents, mother moving away, father and son moving to a new place, and making new friends of different cultures. Overall, I liked the book but would not recommend this for higher readers in mi
Jul 02, 2013 rated it liked it
I just finished this one, and it felt a little thin to me. It didn't hurt the story, though. It made it a good, quick read for reluctant readers. I think the characters could have been developed more and that everything happened really quickly - which is different from the books I usually read. It's good to read different styles, and I'm glad I did because now I recommend something for younger readers, also. Also, it had some super funny scenes. Enjoy!
Jul 26, 2013 rated it liked it
Ok book. Wasn't really something to remember though, and the language and flow of emotions was really weird some times! The second half of the book had a confusing flow of feelings. One minute he's angry at her and in his rant he compliments her.
?? That made me reread why he was angry at her in the first place and that could be understandably, yet it wasn't written very well. Also, that part with the mom, that was a flurry of different emotions that disrupted the reading flow.
Oct 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
I found an odd disconnect between the stated ages of the main characters (14) and the way they behaved, talked, etc. The main characters seemed a lot younger. Even the cover makes it skew younger than 14. That said, it's a fun, easy read, maybe a good choice for reluctant readers at the upper reaches of the middle-grade years.
Nov 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
This book was a bit slow to start, but once it got going I really enjoyed it. The characters were all well developed, and it touched on many issues. How to be a friend and a sibling to someone who is high functioning special needs. How to deal with the death of a parent or being abandoned by a parent. I will definitely be writing a book-talk for this one.
Feb 29, 2016 rated it liked it
This is a book that we can all relate to. A 13 year old boy called Zachary has just moved after his mum left him and his dad. Zachary meets this over excited boy who gets in trouble with the law quite often at first Zachary is very annoyed by him but then they find one thing they both like the trumpet and the rest is history.
Jessica Buike
Oct 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
This was a fun little novel that reminded me of the books I loved when I was a pre-teen. It contains a coming of age story with some lovable and believable characters, and touches on some serious themes in a lighthearted way.
Nov 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Teen Readers
Recommended to KyBunnies by:

This is a wonderful book for teenagers. A very nice clean read for the younger people. Well developed characters with a wonderful plot. The book was well written.

Jul 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
Another coming of age story. Delightful characters. Loved how the main character moved past his initial fury at his mom walking out on him and his dad. A bit simplified, perhaps, but I like it when kids are shown as resilient go-getters instead of wo-is-me victims. Recommended 11+
Mar 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
This was a surprisingly good book about how Zachary spends his summer coping with being the new kid in a small town and with the breakdown of his family. The character Rachel does not punch him in the face til much later in the story ;)
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I was born in Bristol, Connecticut and grew up surrounded by an extended mob of parents, sister, grandparents, cousins, neighborhood kids, rabbits, dogs, nurses, engineers and others that, at various times, included musicians, Italians, Canadians, cancer survivors, gardeners, chicken killers, hair dressers, poker players, checker cheaters, pony riders, shopkeepers, factory workers, elementary sch ...more

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