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The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin [Kindle Edition]

Josh Berk
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $8.99
Kindle Price: $5.99
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Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

Being a hefty, deaf newcomer almost makes Will Halpin the least popular guy at Coaler High. But when he befriends the only guy less popular than him, the dork-namic duo has the smarts and guts to figure out who knocked off the star quarterback. Will can’t hear what’s going on, but he’s a great observer. So, who did it? And why does that guy talk to his fingers? And will the beautiful girl ever notice him? (Okay, so Will’s interested in more than just murder . . .)

Those who prefer their heroes to be not-so-usual and with a side of wiseguy will gobble up this witty, geeks-rule debut.

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 8 Up—Will Halpin has ditched his former "deaf school" and is now trying to merge into the auditory-able mainstream at Carbon High in eastern Pennsylvania. As the new, overweight kid who has to sit off to the side during classes so he can try to read the lips of both his teachers and his classmates, Will—no slouch when it comes to reading human reactions—quickly downsizes his social expectations and retreats back into the soundless cocoon of his own skull. Luckily for readers, it's darkly hilarious in there. That's this debut novel's most potent hook: the opportunity to spend some quality time inside the precociously perceptive and sardonically witty head of this ultimate outsider as he visually eavesdrops—and rips on—the sick subtleties of a typical high school's social order. What teens wouldn't want to have Will's skills as he, notebook in hand, monitors the school bus mirror and pieces together what all the cool kids are talking about? Most, Will discovers, as he deftly dissects personalities and devilishly deconstructs high school culture, are slavishly focused on being invited to an exclusive party being thrown by popular jock Pat. But when Pat dies during a field trip to a defunct coal mine, under suspicious circumstances, the story morphs into an engaging mystery as Will reluctantly accepts the unsettlingly friendly overtures of a quirky classmate bent on enlisting him as a partner in some amateur sleuthing. A coming-of-age mash-up of satire, realistic fiction, mystery, and ill-fated teen romance, The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin is a genre-bending breakthrough that teens are going to love.—Jeffrey Hastings, Highlander Way Middle School, Howell, MI
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Will Halpin is the new kid at school. This is a tough situation even in the best of circumstances, but Will is also deaf, and his self-image isn’t great (he compares his body to a “sedentary manatee”). Having left a school for the deaf, Will survives at his first public school with a lot of lip-reading, texting, and the friendship of another social outcast, Devon Smiley. Together, the two students become a duo of misfit Hardy Boys who investigate the death of a classmate while on a field trip to the Happy Memory Coal Mine. The mystery is not the strong suit here; it’s the goofiness of these two unexpected heroes and their take on high school that carries the novel. The school bus, for instance, has “a directly rising slope of coolness from the front . . . to the back. . . . If you keep going, you’d fly out the back . . . and land in the cars belonging to the kids far too cool to ever set foot on a bus.” A humorous first novel from an author to watch. Grades 6-9. --Cindy Dobrez

Product Details

  • File Size: 276 KB
  • Print Length: 258 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0375846255
  • Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (February 9, 2010)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0036894P0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #606,085 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Holden + Harriet = Haplin February 9, 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Dark Days reminded me of reading Three Investigators books when I was a kid... those were my poison, not the Hardy Boys (which are oft alluded too in DDoHH). It has all the spills and thrills of any mystery a kid reads by night under the covers with a flashlight because it's just not possible to stop reading until you're done, but it's a contemporary story at the same time, and it transcends a formulaic mystery with characters and quirkiness and subplots that make it feel more classic.

The hero, Will Halpin (Hamburger is his IM name) is the hearing-impaired, round-bellied progeny of Holden Caulfield and Harriet Welsch. Well, he doesn't match Holden's cynicism, but he has his all-seeing critical eye and (like Harriet) records much of what he sees (and lip-reads) to his notebook. What Will has that Holden lacks is an essential need to belong, a desire to be liked even by kids he knows aren't worth the trouble. That makes him likable and completely human.

When he leaves deaf school for public school (mostly for political reasons), he quickly concedes that his only pal will be a mutual outcast, the goofy Devon Smiley who sports a pony-tail and talks like somebody out of The Great Gatsby. He also realizes soon after that Devon is a much better friend than anyone in the complex social hierarchy at Coaler High School, with the gorgeous Leigha Pennington and the self-assured and obnoxious Pat Chambers at the apex. Those two break up, Pat meets with an "accident," and as Will's ex-girlfriend from the deaf school signs, "the game is afoot." Devon, Will, and Ebony (the ex) are on the case.

There are plenty of LOLs and LOL2BIFTLOLISs along the way, but there's a good caper here, too, with an excellent ending. Don't let the deaf hero fool you -- this is no "problem novel" about a kid with disabilities. Will would absolutely hate that.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Witty Must-Read! February 13, 2010
By Zilker
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed TDDOHH. The characters, from the stars and stand-outs, to the peripheral characters are extremely well developed. Berk obviously remembers the nuances of high school. This is a clever whodunit for a new generation of mystery lovers.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin February 27, 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a wonderful book. The main character is engaging and the plot and twists of the story are clever. After reading the book, we went to Amazon and bought three more books for our grandsons and nephews. Teenagers will definitely love and relate to it, but as an adult and an avid reader of all types of books, including mysteries we found it extremely enjoyable. Do not hesitate go out and buy this book today. Hope it becomes a series, because you will definitely care about the characters, especially Will, and you will want to know what he is up to now. Jay and Marilyn W.
Plantation, Fl.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book! February 25, 2010
As a high school teacher, I thought the characters were pretty realistic in this book. I could see some of my students in the characters of the story. The plot was suspenseful enough to keep an adult's interest, but was written so that even a young teen could read it easily. I loved the ending--didn't see it coming, but it made sense. I really enjoyed this book and plan to pass it along to my nieces and nephews (as long as they give it back to me!)
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't put it down .... February 25, 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Dark Days is a funny, riveting whodunit mystery with a cast of characters that are believable and really grow on you. Will Halpin, our hero, is an overweight, deaf kid trying to mainstream into a new high school. But he is no loser. He's bright, irreverent, witty, and has the kind of sweetness that made me love the detective, Columbo. I am an avid mystery reader and am glad to see that young adults have a worthwhile novel here, one they won't be able to put down. Oh, and Halpin has his own "Watson," a nerd that readers will come to adore, and there is even a quote from the master Sherlock Holmes, himself, and later used in the new Star Trek movie, which warmed my heart. The author, Josh Berk, does a great job of introducing plausible suspects, throws in some action and danger, then ends with a satisfying and dramatic solution to the crime. Berk also paints an accurate picture of the trials and torments of high school life, especially if you're not one of the in-crowd. I would recommend it to all young adults. And parents, if you don't mind your children reading irreverent humor, I would go so far as to say that any child that can read 8th grade level and up would enjoy it immensely.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A New Young Author to Watch--and Read February 25, 2010
Hamburger Halpin, despite being a special needs young man, is a little bit of all of us, or at least all of us when we were in high school. He is a bright kid who because of being deaf and overweight receives the typically warm welcome that outsiders receive. Josh Berk has done a great job creating a character with whom we can sympathize.

Although I have a few years on HH, he is definitely the kind of guy I would like for a friend. He has a good sense of humor and he cares about people. Berk keeps the action moving, especially by using the clever, but realistic, technique of having the Burger communicate very nicely with his nerdy best friend by texting.

In addition to capturing the angst-ridden state of adolescence, Berk has written a corking good mystery. I am not a fan of mysteries, but I couldn't put this one down. I look forward to Josh Berk's future stories of Hamburger Halpin and so will many adults and a whole mess of young adults who read this engaging book.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars What a crack up!
This was a fabulous read! The characters felt like real people. Their actions, speech, even texting, had an authentic feel to it. Read more
Published 1 day ago by Heidi W.
3.0 out of 5 stars Good read
It wasn't a terrible book but it wasn't amazing either! The biggest problem with the book is the like-abilty of the main character. Read more
Published 19 months ago by K. April Holgate
5.0 out of 5 stars I love Hamburger!
I LOVE this book. Even before the murder mystery is introduced, the snarky misfit main character drew me in. Read more
Published on October 6, 2011 by Genevieve Petrillo
5.0 out of 5 stars Humorous and sardonic
A hilarious mystery involving a humorous and sardonic narrator - one who is both deaf and fat and nowhere close to being popular. Read more
Published on August 3, 2011 by Kristen M. Harvey
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Approach to Deaf Culture
First a SPOILER ALERT. The "most helpful" negative review below, by a person named Spellmann, criticizes this book for being "potty mouthed", and then for good measure gives away... Read more
Published on February 10, 2011 by Pop Bop
4.0 out of 5 stars A darker, snarkier Hardy Boys for today's teens
Book Talk: After Will leaves his deaf school for a mainstream one, he has plenty of trouble just trying to fit in. Read more
Published on February 6, 2011 by sassy shelver
5.0 out of 5 stars Hamburger makes me hungry for more
I LOVED this book! There wasn't one point to which I got bored of it and had to throw it aside. I read it in 11/2 days, but could of read it in one if I went nonstop. Read more
Published on January 10, 2011 by Frank Borg
5.0 out of 5 stars It gets them to READ!!
I think this book is great. This book is fast paced, witty, well written and engrossing. Halpin is the high schooler who tells the story and he is attending a public school after... Read more
Published on December 6, 2010 by K. Schirmer-Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars Near Perfection and Hilarious!
The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin is by far one of my favorite books of the year. Josh Berk makes the main character Will Halpin witty, observant, and just generally the type of... Read more
Published on September 10, 2010 by J. Wiles Parker
4.0 out of 5 stars Refreshing and Fun!
Can an overweight, deaf sixteen-year old and a Hardy Boys aficionado help solve a murder mystery? You bet they can! The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin was a rip roaring good time. Read more
Published on August 30, 2010 by K. Pickett
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More About the Author

Josh Berk is the author of THE DARK DAYS OF HAMBURGER HALPIN (Knopf 2010), named a best book for teens of 2010 by Kirkus Reviews and It was also awarded a Parent's Choice Silver medal, a starred review from School Library Journal, and a perfect 10 from VOYA. Reviewers called it witty, sardonic, delightful, and "a genre-bending breakthrough." (SLJ) His second comedy/mystery YA novel is GUY LANGMAN: CRIME SCENE PROCRASTINATOR (Knopf 2012). Kirkus says: "Hilarious wit and serious gloom blend seamlessly as Guy wades through the year after his dad's death..." Josh has also written a series of baseball-themed mysteries for younger readers. Look for STRIKE THREE, YOU'RE DEAD - the first in the "Lenny & The Mikes" series in 2013.

Josh has previously been a journalist, a poet, a playwright, and a guitarist (mostly in bands known for things other than fine guitar-playing). Visit for more information or for too much information.


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