From School Library Journal
Grade 8–10—On his first day at a new high school, Jupiter Glazer finds himself completely ignored by his classmates or being shoved into a locker. His growing suspicions are confirmed: he's a loser. Maybe it's his Russian accent, maybe it's the fact that the only place he and his immigrant parents can afford to live is in the worst neighborhood in town, or maybe it's his friendship with fellow émigré and science nerd Vadim. Everything changes when he manages to crash a party being held by the hottest girl in school; a few semi-accidental witticisms and an accent makeover later, Jupiter is ascending, if not to popularity, at least to a comfortable slot in the high school social hierarchy. He seems to have a special gift for connecting with people, and this gift serves him in good stead as he begins to understand his family, his high school, and himself. Roth's wry, lighthearted touch lends this sweet novel and its protagonist tremendous appeal, which transcends the sometimes too-loose plot; it's a fast, funny read with teen appeal and musical references that will delight fans of '80s and '90s shoegazer rock. Outsiders everywhere will rejoice with Jupiter as he finds a place for himself in a world that often feels as foreign to him as he does to it.—Meredith Robbins, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis High School, New York City
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Russian immigrant Jupiter Glazer has been a target for bullies since he came to Philadelphia when he was seven years old. His family lives and works in an almost-defunct elevator factory in an industrial neighborhood. Jupiter hopes for a clean start at his new high school, where a girl encourages him to lose his thick accent and a bully named Bates becomes an unlikely but dependable friend, particularly as Jupiter’s popularity and self-confidence grow. Bates, a metalhead, and Jupiter, a retro-alternative guy, soothe their souls with music, which forms a strong, authentic undercurrent in the novel. Bates finally trusts Jupiter enough to reveal his sexual confusion and to ask for help in finding the gay teen hangouts in the city, but then Bates is disappointed after not finding anyone in the gay teen scene with whom he connects. Teens will forgive the rather convenient solution to Jupiter’s housing problem and will focus instead on the honest views of popularity, parental disappointment, and self-image. Grades 9-12. --Cindy Dobrez