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The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin Hardcover – February 9, 2010
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From School Library Journal
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
Will is overweight and sarcastic. In fact, he refers to himself as a "sedentary manatee." However, these are not Will's only characteristics. He is also deaf. Will left his "special school" to be a part of the mainstream "normal" high school scene. The Superintendant of the school resembles a "skeleton in a Beatles wig who smells like beef." And, from there, we are introduced to a cast of characters that are absolutely hysterical. We have the popular girl who everyone loves because she's beautiful. She is, of course, the ex of the quarterback. We have the incredibly rich girl, who likes to show off her money, and scream at her underlings, and we also have the inevitable geeks and nerds who, like Will, tend to stand on the sidelines and look out at the popular landscape with both amusement and envy in their eyes.
Will doesn't like hearing aids, so he attempts to lip-read all the teachers and students; even jotting down notes in his notebook regarding each and every person he runs into. (examples: the principal of the school who is rumored to have thrown a student out the window for chewing gum; a bus driver with toenails the length of a T-Rex; and, the jocks who seem to be outsmarted when trying to open a milk container in the lunch room).
Soon Will meets up with a boy named Devon Smiley. Devon is another outsider that gets picked on a lot by Pat Chambers - the football hero. Pat is one of those boys who have the world and everyone in it at their feet. His father is an extremely rich casino developer who is popping up in the news as being investigated by the government for illegal activity.Read more ›
Unfortunately, Dark Days is culturally inaccurate and presents a hearing-centric perspective through a deaf character. Josh Berk's passing knowledge of sign language, Deaf Culture, the major contentions within this culture, and experiences of growing up deaf give him just enough material to be dangerous--and WRONG. (This does not include issues of mature content (i.e. the student-teacher liaisons, teenage pregnancy, the misogynistic trend) which put this book a bit above the 7th grade reading level--in my opinion, at least).
In Berk's acknowledgements, there is a short paragraph acknowledging the blogs of deaf writers who "helped [him] understand [his] subject better without even knowing it;" meaning, he only read these blogs and contacted perhaps one person (250)? This, I imagine, did not include any deaf vlogs in sign language, as Berk is quite obviously sign illiterate; this limits his faulty research to only the deaf individuals with confidence in their English. The only blog specifically named is not connected to the Deaf Community (and is no longer active).
Berk does not acknowledge the ADA's (American with Disabilities Act) role in the schooling of Deaf children, and the teachers all seem to blatantly ignore Will's IEP (Individual Education Plan, which would be necessary even for a student with hearing aids) by not facing him or providing another way for him to participate with class except lip-reading (which is NOT nearly as accurate as the narrative makes it seem).Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I enjoyed the characters in this book, also. This author writes good young mystery stories.Published 8 months ago by Lorraine
This was a fabulous read! The characters felt like real people. Their actions, speech, even texting, had an authentic feel to it. Read morePublished 22 months ago by Heidi W.
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 morePublished on February 11, 2013 by K. April Holgate
I LOVE this book. Even before the murder mystery is introduced, the snarky misfit main character drew me in. Read morePublished on October 6, 2011 by Genevieve Petrillo
A hilarious mystery involving a humorous and sardonic narrator - one who is both deaf and fat and nowhere close to being popular. Read morePublished on August 3, 2011 by Kristen M. Harvey
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 morePublished on February 10, 2011 by Pop Bop
Book Talk: After Will leaves his deaf school for a mainstream one, he has plenty of trouble just trying to fit in. Read morePublished on February 6, 2011 by sassy shelver
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 morePublished on January 10, 2011 by Frank Borg
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 morePublished on December 6, 2010 by K. Schirmer-Smith