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The Fingertips of Duncan Dorfman Paperback – September 13, 2012
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Duncan, a new kid in his school, plays for another reason altogether. First, he thinks he's playing so that the other kids won't consider him a loser. A nobody. Then he thinks he's playing so that he can give his share of the winning team's money ($10,000 total) to his mother. But really, Duncan learns he's playing in order to do the right thing, not the wrong thing. And in order to learn who he really is.
This is a wonderful story, with strong, interesting 12-year-old heroes. The writing is also wonderful: smooth and funny. The story and writing remind me very much of the writing of E.L. Konigsburg. In addition to the superb story and commendable writing, there's a bonus: the reader picks up many tips for playing Scrabble. Highly recommended
First up, we meet Duncan Dorfman, whose life has taken a downturn in spite of his newly discovered supernatural power, the one his mother earnestly urges him to keep secret because "If you don't, I'm afraid something bad will happen." Because Duncan's mom recently lost her job, she and Duncan moved back to Drilling Falls, Pennsylvania, the town in which she grew up. Duncan's great-aunt Djuna welcomed them into her house and managed to get Duncan's mom a job at the Thriftee Mike's Warehouse superstore. Unfortunately for Duncan, Aunt Djuna only cooks unappealing vegan fare.
Adding to his misery, his mom buys his clothes from her workplace, which means his wardrobe features shirts the exact hues of mustard, ketchup and relish. Duncan discovered his "power" just recently, when he found he could read through the fingertips of his left hand at will. For five miserable weeks at his new school, where he is mocked and ignored, he keeps his talent secret. But when he lets it slip to his only friend, bad boy Carl Slater overhears...and instantly believes Duncan's power is the way they will win the Youth Scrabble Tournament together. Duncan wants to play Scrabble and to be part of Carl's circle. He also knows his mother could certainly use the contest's prize money, yet he must wrestle with a moral quandary: If he uses his unique talent, is it cheating or not?
Way across the country in Portland, Oregon, April Blunt is planning how she and her best friend, Lucy, will win the Youth Scrabble Tournament.Read more ›
Duncan has to make a lot of difficult decisions, but is willing to do just about anything to go to the tournament with Carl. Carl's mother pays for the trip and asks Duncan to pay her back by serving as a model in a cigarette advertising campaign. Carl goes along with this, but soon his conscience starts to bother him and he wonders if he's doing the right thing. He decides to try to win the tournament without using his power, telling Carl that he'll use it only when it's absolutely necessary. But can he bring himself to cheat?
This is a well-written and enjoyable exploration of moral quandaries for middle-school aged children. I recommend it for adults who enjoy children's literature as well.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The book was very good especially for anyone that's a Scrabble player.Published 16 months ago by Betty Wallace
Love all things Meg Wolitzer -- from her middle grade to her adult books. They make great gifts, and are always a pleasure to read.Published 20 months ago by Courtney
it was a really good book. I got sucked into it fast and I truly really like the story. I would recommend this to a lot of people who want a truly good story.Published on August 13, 2014 by guessinggirl
This was a good book it will be a book I read over and over again.This year old man andPublished on June 16, 2014 by Audra Sedillo
Meg Wolitzer is one of my favorite adult authors. This departure from her grown-up stuff doesn't disappoint. The characters are fun, relatable, but complex. Read morePublished on March 14, 2014 by Jennifer Byquist
I don't know how I failed to notice that this was a YA book when I bought it on my Kindle, but nonetheless, I enjoyed it completely. Read morePublished on February 15, 2014 by Denise Mickelsen