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The Fingertips of Duncan Dorfman

3.64  ·  Rating details ·  1,124 ratings  ·  224 reviews
At first glance, Duncan Dorfman, April Blunt, and Nate Saviano don't seem to have much in common. Duncan is trying to look after his single mom and adjust to life in a new town while managing his newfound Scrabble superpower - he can feel words and pictures beneath his fingers and tell what they are without looking. April is pining for a mystery boy she met years ago and s ...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published September 20th 2011 by Dutton Books for Young Readers
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3.64  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,124 ratings  ·  224 reviews

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Mimi 'Pans' Herondale
This was a cute book but I was seriously hoping or (view spoiler)
This book entered my life in a timely manner, as I've been cheating my way through several games of Words with Friends. The type of sporting book I can really get behind.
Duncan is a social outcast who doesn't have much going for him. He and his mother just moved to Drilling Falls, PA after she lost her job in their old town. Now they live with his aunt, and she works at Thriftee Mike's. Duncan sits at the outcasts table and tries to stay un-noticed, but when he shows his secret talent to his one friend, the ability to read with his fingertips, the school bully and Scrabble champion notices, and wants Duncan on his team for the Youth Scrabble Tournament (YST).

Aug 30, 2011 rated it it was ok
Years ago a friend donated a copy of a book to the library in which I worked. This book was supposed to boost SAT scores by giving students access to the "15-cent word" vocabulary they'd need in context, so all over the pages were words underlined to indicate HERE IS AN SAT WORD. Oddly enought, no one every borrowed this book, even those avidly preparing for the exams. Why do I mention this? Because this book feels the same to me: let's get kids into Scrabble, fitting a story in around lists of ...more
Mar 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is a great book about a boy with a "power" for knowing what's written on a page(or a Scrabble tile)simply by touching it. Another boy wants to harness the power, by making him his teammate at a national Scrabble tournament. Duncan meets many new friends who are participating in the tournament for their own various reasons, some not so willingly, and he has to determine whether his desire to win is worth the guilt of cheating against these worthy competitors. The assorted stories of the char ...more
Jan 25, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2014, kids
I would almost give this three stars, but I just couldn't. I liked the characters and I appreciated that everyone had different motivations for wanting to win the Scrabble tournament. I was also interested in finding out who would win in the end.

So my first problem is that Duncan's super power was basically pointless. It was a plot device to make Carl want to be his partner, but other than that served no real purpose. In a book with no other elements of fantasy, it just didn't fit. Second, the c
Aug 25, 2011 rated it liked it
This book is about a series of kids who compete in a national tournament. Each kid has their own little subplot. Nate is forced to play by his dad, who lost at a former Scrabble tournament. April is looking for a kid she met years ago at a pool on vacation who loved Scrabble. And Duncan has a special power that he can read words using only his fingertips. The book was extremely fast paced, and as a Scrabble fan, I enjoyed all the trivia and references. As a teen novel, it wasn't that dramatic, a ...more
Dec 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book is perfect for middle school readers. It's the story of a group of smart kids from around the US who come together for the Youth Scrabble Tournament -- each with his or her backstory, each with his or her secret reasons for being in the tournament. I enjoyed this book a lot ... in large part, I admit, because I love Scrabble. But also because it showcases Meg Wolitzer's ability to weave together disparate storylines in believable ways -- even when it results in some impressive coincide ...more
Jan 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
Maybe it's just my love of (or obsession with) playing Words With Friends, but I really enjoyed this book about six kids and their adventures in the world of Scrabble tournaments. They are each there for different reasons, each searching for something different, that they may or may not be able to find through Scrabble. I enjoyed reading how they found things to appreciate in each other, no matter how different they all seemed at first. I know exactly which Scrabble-loving 6th grader I am going ...more
Dec 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I’ve always gravitated to children’s books about characters with extraordinary powers. I’m not talking about the iconic Batman and Superman. I love reading about kids who are somewhat nerdy but have a special talent. Now I can add The Fingertips of Duncan Dorfman to my list of favorite "power" novels such as Savy, Powerless and The Trouble with Jenny's Ear. Duncan is faced with moral choices as to when to use his ability to feel letters beneath his fingertips. The group of new friends he makes a ...more
Sep 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: childrens
Wolitzer scores a triple word bonus with her first novel for young readers.The Fingertips of Duncan Dorfman follows three, mostly ordinary 12-year olds competing in the National Youth Scrabble Tournament. Everyone has their own unique reason for playing scrabble and wanting to win. A lot of fun and vocabulary-building to boot!
Aug 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing
so far so good, my daughter is only a couple chapters in but she is likeing it :)

My daughter loved it, she says that people who like words, and scrable in particular would love this book. We played a few games of scrabble ourselves while she read it! For either boys or girls, some of it is quiet funny. She says she thinks it is for 8-12 year olds. She recommends it for sure.
Craig Pittman
Jan 14, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An entertaining YA novel that manages to dramatize playing Scrabble (no easy task) as well as deal with some serious daddy issues. Read this aloud to my kids as a bedtime book and they got a big kick out of it, particularly the part where the contestants are (almost) all stuck in a dark, damp theme park ride and one young one shouts out, "I have to urinate!"
Mrs. Nelson's
Aug 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Another wonderful adult author whose foray into kid lit is a rousing success! Wolitzer's fresh, quirky adventure reminded me of "The View From Saturday", while still remaining unique. I couldn't put it down!
--Review by Lauren
Feb 16, 2013 rated it liked it
Misfit middle-schooler makes a place for himself, against the backdrop of the Youth Scrabble Tournament. The writing and plot are admittedly uneven, but this book has a good heart and we enjoyed reading it.
Dec 12, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Exceptional people, ethical quandaries, separate threads coming together . . . there's a lot to like about this book.
Cathy Blackler
May 19, 2011 rated it really liked it
Scrabble lovers, fans of the underdog, and those who loved The View from Saturday and The Wednesday Wars will love Wolitzer's story about the power of believing in yourself.
Aug 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Well-crafted story, great Scrabble detais (why no nod to Stefan Fatsis's Word Play?)and finely drawn characters make this a page-turning winner.
"Sometimes your talent ... your tiny, weird skill, or even your power ... just has to get out."

Drilling Falls, PA: There's something special about Duncan Dorfman. That special skill could just get him in with the popular crowd, but his mother warns him not to let anyone know about it. It could lead to serious consequences. And she's right. When the secret gets out, it draws the attention of Carl Slater, part time scrabble player and full time bully.

Portland, OR: April Blunt has a mysterious boy
Mirele Kessous
Feb 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Cute, entertaining story with an unusual premise. But Duncan's strange talent for reading words with just his fingertips is woven into the story in a believable way and raises pertinent questions of cheating and ethics. Meg Wolitzer is a very funny writer. I really enjoyed the way she'd have little running jokes throughout the novel, and her jingles are certainly memorable. The one part of the story that I thought was too far-fetched was [SPOILER ALERT] Carl's drastic 180 in attitude near the en ...more
May 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: children-s-books
My daughter picked this up from the library, enjoyed it, and suggested I read it. Being a lover of words but detesting Scrabble (strange combination, I know, owing to a brain that can. not. unscramble. words.), I enjoyed the journey of learning to appreciate the game. It was a cute story, which made both normal characters and a normal game interesting. Recommended age range: tweens.
Mar 30, 2019 rated it liked it
I’m a scrabble player, which is mainly what compelled me to read this book, plus I’ve read and enjoyed Meg Wolitzer’s adult fiction in the past. It’s an entertaining read, with some fun and realistic characters. It’s a book I’m sure I’d have enjoyed a great deal when I was 11 or 12.
Dedi Setiadi
Jan 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned-in-english
This book deserves more than 3,6 ratings on goodreads! It's a fun and heartfelt middle grade. Full of lovable characters with different motives to participate in a scrabble competition. The ending is a bit over the top and over-dramatic, but this book, once again, deserves more love!! :"
Oct 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: children-s-books
Excellent middle grade book about friendships and morals and being yourself. Meg Wolitzer also did a great job making the game Scrabble seem extremely interesting to someone not normally interested in playing it.
Dec 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
Fun book about finding one's tribe and embracing one's moral base. Good novel for middle schoolers.
Tyshanni Minter
Apr 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book so much . It had been sitting on my shelf for almost a year , I don’t know why I hadn’t read it yet . But I’m so glad I picked it up again .
Apr 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
Interesting book that includes a new kid in school and a bully as main characters and a solid cast of secondary fellow Scrabble players. Who are the winners, or are they all?
Audrey K
Apr 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The misfit, the homeschooled skateboarder, and the superhuman all brought together by the game of Scrabble. In the book The Fingertips of Duncan Dorfman by Meg Wolitzer these three characters live totally different lives but then, one game brings them together.

First, when Duncan Dorfman moves to his mom's hometown, he figures out about a special ability he has. He's able to read with his fingertips. As Duncan tries to fit in and also figure out what happened to his dad he comes across a game, th
Jul 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
This novel is about scrabble. It includes all of the two letter words that are legal, and how to make a bingo and what a bingo bango bongo is. So if you are interested in scrabble, and word games, this book is for you. Not that you have to love scrabble. I don't love it, and am easily intimidated by other players who are. But I enjoyed this book because the three teams who face off at the Youth Scrabble Tournament are all from different parts of the country, with different family problems, and q ...more
Rhiannon Ryder
Feb 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
One of the highlights of the BEA this past year, for me anyhow, has been how many books I walked away with which turned out to be pretty damn fun. Books I hadn't heard of before the expo, but sounded like they had enough potential to merit being packed and flown home, and which rocked my socks off once I got around to picking them off the bookshelf.

One of these was the Fingertips of Duncan Dorfman, Meg Wolitzer's first children's book. Meg pitched FDD at the speed dating for YA and children's au
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Meg Wolitzer is the New York Times–bestselling author of The Interestings, The Uncoupling, The Ten-Year Nap, The Position, The Wife, and Sleepwalking. She is also the author of the young adult novel Belzhar. Wolitzer lives in New York City.