Books by Brendan Halpin

A REALLY AWESOME MESS by Trish Cook
YOUNG ADULT
Released: July 23, 2013

"Funny and fast-moving—but too much of the healing rings hollow. (Fiction. 14-18)"
A group of teens at a live-in institution for troubled young people bond, pull off a caper and overcome their issues in an amusing but overly rosy two-narrator tale. Read full book review >
Released: March 27, 2012

"An accessible, if not original, take on coming out and overcoming adversity. (Fiction. 12 & up)"
In a story unapologetically ripped from the headlines, a small-town high-school student starts a furor by announcing her intention to wear a tuxedo to prom and bring a same-sex date. Read full book review >
FICTION
Released: Feb. 1, 2011

After a successful first season of Jenna & Jonah's How to Be a Rock Star, teen idols Charlie and Aaron (aka Fielding Withers to his fans) are given an ultimatum: "fall in love or fall apart." Three seasons later, the Family Network actors must plot every kiss for the paparazzi, sacrificing freedom for stardom. But when Aaron is falsely outed as gay, and the "family-friendly" (rather, ratings-conscious) network drops their show, the acting duo tries to salvage their plummeting reputations as Beatrice and Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. As in their previous The Half-Life of Planets (2010), which garners a clever allusion, the dual authors alternate chapters and witty banter as the teens try to figure out how to act, live and love without a guided script. While the Charlie and Aaron/Beatrice and Benedick comparisons become overdrawn by the end, the biting commentary on "reality" TV and society's obsession with fame will keep readers laughing, as will all the remembered Jenna & Jonah scenes. Love, American style. (Fiction. YA)Read full book review >
NOTES FROM THE BLENDER by Brendan Halpin
FAMILY AND GROWING UP
Released: Oct. 26, 2010

Two stepsiblings-to-be narrate this charming, funny and surprisingly touching family story in alternating chapters. Declan, the stronger of the two voices, is a prickly but sensitive metalhead obsessed with masturbation and Internet porn who lost his mom to a car accident at age nine. Neilly—over whom Dec secretly lusts from afar—is a pretty, popular junior who fiercely defends her father's partnership with a man. When Dec's dad and Neilly's mom reveal to their children that they plan to get married, the teens quickly unite in sympathy, forming a refreshingly warm sibling relationship as they come to terms with the changes in their lives. Though the lessons Neilly learns are somewhat pat, Declan's transformation from antisocial lech to tattooed vegan and "boyfriend material" is unique and pitch-perfect, with a satisfyingly realistic number of rejections along the way. Dec's compassionate Aunt Sarah, whose Unitarian Universalist youth group becomes a refuge for both teens, brings yet more wit and kindness to this sweet, emotional, but never hokey mix. (Fiction. 14 & up)Read full book review >
SHUTOUT by Brendan Halpin
FAMILY AND GROWING UP
Released: Aug. 17, 2010

Fourteen-year-old Amanda is on the cusp of many changes at the outset of her freshman year. Until now, soccer and her best friend Lena have been constants in Amanda's life. However, varsity tryouts and Sever's disease (a common heel injury found in many young athletes) alters her plans. From the sidelines of junior varsity, Amanda watches as Lena's sudden social success with the varsity soccer team spirals into a series of poor choices. Amanda faces tough decisions: Should she succumb to peer pressure in the name of friendship, and should she bother to salvage a friendship gone awry? The resulting rift with Lena leads Amanda to explore new friendships, the benefits of yoga and a potential relationship with a reclusive boy in English class. Halpin's narrative adeptly segues between adrenaline-filled soccer matches to more reflective, contemplative passages. Amanda's quandary will resonate with readers as she tackles timely topics such as friendship woes, teen drinking and family life with admirable aplomb. (Fiction. 12 & up)Read full book review >
THE HALF-LIFE OF PLANETS by Emily Franklin
FAMILY AND GROWING UP
Released: June 15, 2010

"I am not a slut," says Liana Planet (pronounce pluh-net) in the attention-grabbing first line of this fine romantic comedy. She has a reputation for loving to kiss, and many boys have been the beneficiaries of her passion. It has never taken her beyond locking lips, however, and now she's experimenting on herself this summer: Can she become a new person and leave her kissing-bandit ways behind? An aspiring scientist doing planetary research, Liana understands planets and their predictable orbits and patterns; it's people she doesn't always get. Nor does Hank, a teenager with Asperger's syndrome who gets music but can't read social cues. Put them together, telling their stories in alternating first-person narratives, and the result is a story laced with intelligent humor, well-drawn characters—even the secondary ones—and believable situations. There's melodrama here and some clichéd scenes, but these are high-school students after all, and readers will find themselves cheering for the proper alignment of these star-crossed lovers. (Fiction. YA)Read full book review >
I CAN SEE CLEARLY NOW by Brendan Halpin
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: March 24, 2009

"What could have been an interesting period piece about the creative process turns out more like an episode of Behind The Music: Schoolhouse Rock!"
A young group of musicians toiling on a series of educational songs for television get into that '70s groove, in this tepid rock 'n' roll melodrama from Halpin (How Ya Like Me Now, 2007, etc.). Read full book review >
FOREVER CHANGES by Brendan Halpin
FICTION
Released: Sept. 8, 2008

A teen with cystic fibrosis learns that her limited life can hold infinite potential. Brianna has little sentimentality about her illness, preferring to focus on the present and to try not to worry about the future. A gifted mathematician, she applies to MIT even though she knows she may not live to graduate and go on to a career. In her last year of high school, she befriends the class geek through a shared love of an acid-inspired rock album and is inspired to think about the relationships among math, life and infinity by her loquacious, eccentric math teacher. The writing, though minimalist, captures much dimension in the personalities of Brianna and those who love her. Friends whom Brianna has lost to cystic fibrosis are mentioned and remembered, but not obsessed over. Brianna is not particularly rich, beautiful, brave or intelligent (outside of math), but she understands mortality and the importance of living life rather than dwelling on the certainty of early death. An excellent next read for teens who enjoyed Jenny Downham's Before I Die (2007). (Fiction. YA)Read full book review >
HOW YA LIKE ME NOW by Brendan Halpin
FAMILY AND GROWING UP
Released: May 8, 2007

Fifteen-year-old Eddie's mother is forced into rehab and his father has died, leaving the young man adrift without adult support. Eddie must adapt to a new environment after being accepted into his cousin Alex's Boston home. Both boys mature throughout the story, but Eddie gains confidence in himself by interacting with a new peer group. Many of the scenes occur inside their school built on the theme of business and requiring the students to dress and act like future business leaders. The boys are two of only a few white kids in the school, but relationships are relaxed and easygoing. The author has sanitized the urban school setting with dialogue almost void of swearing, and perhaps loses some credibility in the process. The cover photograph, thumbs poised over a video-game controller, is an attention-grabber, but video-gaming is only a small part of the story. The author nails group interaction moments in which the boys' give-and-take wisecracks are totally realistic, and that repartee is the book's strength. An interesting exploration of serious issues, presented in a lighthearted tone. (Fiction. 12-14)Read full book review >
DEAR CATASTROPHE WAITRESS by Brendan Halpin
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: March 13, 2007

"A lukewarm affair."
Maybe rock-'n'-roll will never die, but the two love-scorned exes in this romantic comedy certainly wish it would. Read full book review >
LONG WAY BACK by Brendan Halpin
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Jan. 10, 2006

"How the Ramones (and rock's original anti-heroes, The Who) save the day, is the pleasing twist to this sweet Nick-Hornby-meets-Graham-Greene tragi-comedy from Halpin (Donorboy, 2004, etc.). "
Boy meets God, boy gets girl, boy loses girl and God, all to a soundtrack by Dee Dee Ramone. Read full book review >
DONORBOY by Brendan Halpin
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Aug. 17, 2004

"Crisp and coherent but still something of a soap opera: obvious, two-dimensional, not wholly convincing."
A debut novel from Halpin (Losing My Faculties: A Teacher's Story, 2003, etc.) shows a teenager growing reconciled to the death of her mother as she comes to know (and live with) her father for the first time. Read full book review >
LOSING MY FACULTIES by Brendan Halpin
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Aug. 19, 2003

"The ups and downs of the teaching profession may leave Halpin feeling like a basketball, but thankfully he isn't full of hot air."
After detailing his wife's struggle with breast cancer, the author of It Takes a Worried Man (2002) turns to a more cheerful topic: his life as a high-school teacher. Read full book review >
IT TAKES A WORRIED MAN by Brendan Halpin
NON-FICTION
Released: March 12, 2002

"An affectingly honest account of what it means to watch helplessly as a loved one suffers: a timely addition to the literature of disease."
A husband's frank, conflicted recollections of coping with his young wife's stage-four breast cancer. Read full book review >