DUNK by David Lubar

DUNK

Age Range: 12 - 14
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KIRKUS REVIEW

Lubar’s (Hidden Talents, 1999, etc.) latest is somewhat weaker than the sum of its parts. The characters are strong, the setting is interesting enough, but somehow the plot just does not ring true. Chad lives on the Jersey shore, an odd place to live, especially in the off season. Chad and his single mother try to scrape together enough money to pay the mortgage, she by working and renting their second floor to boarders, Chad by scamming side jobs on the boardwalk. When Malcolm, a college professor with a unique summer job, becomes their new tenant, Chad’s summer is irrevocably changed. Malcolm works as a “Bozo” at the dunk tank, the smart-mouthed jokester who jeers passers-by into spending their money to dunk him. Chad is so taken by Malcolm’s ability to come up with the perfect wisecrack every time that he vows to study him and become a Bozo himself. Added to this unlikely career choice is Chad’s struggle to work up the courage to talk to his dream girl, the collapse of his best friend due to a rare autoimmune disease, and Malcolm’s slow revelations about his past that led him to this vocation. Chad is an appealing enough teen, nice to his mother, hangs out with his friends, worries about his social life, yet somehow is just not likable enough. Lubar seems to throw in a lot of filler—Chad’s friend’s disease, his struggles to talk to a girl he likes—which doesn’t necessarily add to the story. One substantial plot device involves Malcolm introducing Chad to classics in humor (the Marx brothers, Charlie Chaplin) and discussing how laughter and humor can be healing. Chad uses this idea to help his friend feel better as they await news of his disease, but these parts are few and far between. Not a bad effort, just not quite there. Will appeal to junior-high boys who aren’t looking for a challenging read. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 23rd, 2002
ISBN: 0-618-19455-X
Page count: 280pp
Publisher: Clarion
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 2002




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