School Library Journal

Adult/High School–Punk-rock musician Tabb (of Furious George) writes about his early years. Each of the episodes is tightly plotted and paced, offering almost equal doses of pathos, growing rage, and laugh-out-loud humor. Tabb was bullied not only by his father, but also by thuggish, anti-Semitic classmates during his elementary and junior high years. He writes of taking beatings from an obnoxious group of suburban kids for several years before getting revenge. Another bully, incredibly, was a blind boy able to pulverize the sighted and physically fit Tabb who, credibly, was disbelieved by the adults to whom he turned for help. In spite of all this blood and hate, the story isn't relentlessly grim: he tried to protect his two younger brothers by working the three of them into a team; his mother was both affectionate and concerned for him; and several of his juvenile enemies have their own personal miseries exposed. Tabb portrays his own ignorance–and occasions of righteous innocence–and bypasses anything like self-pity and goes straight to irony, cultural parody, and black humor. The vulgar language and crude behavior (usually on the part of others) are fitting to the tale. Not only will teens find this easy to read in itself, but it's perfect to pair with K. L. Going's Fat Kid Rules the World (Putnam, 2003) and other novels that feature strong characterizations and give due respect to serious subjects without losing any opportunity for wisecracking in the process. –Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley Public Library, CA
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