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THE MISFITS by James Howe

THE MISFITS

By James Howe

Age Range: 10 & up

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-689-83955-3
Publisher: Atheneum

The Gang of Five wants, basically, to get through seventh grade in Paintbrush Falls, New York. The four of them (there are only four, actually) have been friends forever: Bobby’s fat; Addie’s too tall and too smart; Skeezie has personal hygiene issues; and Joe has known he was gay almost since he was born. It’s Bobby’s sweet, sharp voice that narrates—how Addie’s refusal to say the Pledge of Allegiance in class leads to their all running for school office, how each of them develops their first crush, and how both play out in utterly recognizable 12-year-old ways. Howe (Color of Absence, p. 941, etc.) lets his kids discover how the names we call each other shape our vision of ourselves, and the Gang’s attempt to bring about a no-name-calling day (no Dweeb, Fluff, Twinkie, or Nerdette) rings true and real. Straight narrative alternates with transcripts of the Gang’s meetings at the local ice cream parlor down to every last word, thanks to Addie’s determined style. Bobby may be preternaturally articulate, but he is also winsome and funny about some very painful issues: the loss of a parent; the weirdness of adults, even nice ones; the pressure of hormones; and the importance of friendship. Readers of every stripe will find themselves here and laugh (or cringe) as they catch on. (Fiction. 10+)