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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Ember; Reprint edition (June 14, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375846255
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375846250
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.6 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #452,128 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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 --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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 Amazon.com. 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 www.joshberkbooks.com for more information or Twitter.com/joshberkbooks for too much information.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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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!)
T. Wallace
I loved the first-person narrative of the main character, Will Halpin, and I think the author did a great job of fleshing out some of the secondary characters as well.
etacb
Even though this book is tagged as being for young readers, I think that it is a book that people of all ages can read and enjoy.
Sandra L. Dowhan

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Kurtis Scaletta on 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 By Zilker on February 13, 2010
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 By Jay Wilde on 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 By T. Wallace on February 25, 2010
Format: Hardcover
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 By Toby's mom on 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 By Karl Helicher on February 25, 2010
Format: Hardcover
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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