Release Date: February 7, 2017
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Genre: young adult contemporary, realistic fiction, humor
Format/Source: finished copy, from the publisher
Disclaimer: I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review as part of the blog tour, which was organized & hosted by Jean Book Nerd Blog Tours. The full tour schedule can be found HERE. Go check out all their posts!
Balls and all!
Jack Sprigley isn’t just a late-bloomer. He’s a no bloomer: an eighth grader, and puberty is still a total no-show. Worse yet, he hasn’t heard from his friends all winter vacation. He assumes they’ve finally dumped him and his child-like body—until he finds out it’s much worse than that. His friends are now so far ahead of him that they’ve started dating. Jack is out of luck. But then he comes up with a plan to catch up and win his friends back. And his plan is perfect: he just has to fake puberty.
Review:There are approximately one million and one nonfiction books about puberty for parents to check out of the library and place ever so discreetly in front of their children's door in hopes of avoiding awkward discussions about puberty, commonly known as "The Talk" (click on that link. Every once in a blue moon Urban Dictionary is actually funny instead of just plain gross). There's nothing wrong with The Body Book or The Care and Keeping of You or any of these books (unless they're from the 70s. Keep it current, parents!), exactly, but these books are often extremely dry and scientific or on the other end of the spectrum, super buddy buddy. That doesn't work on most kids. Dry is boring, and buddy buddy is disingenuous. That's why I liked Spurt. I don't like to gender books, but Spurt is literally the male equivalent of Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret. It's funny, it's honest, it's awkward. Most of all, it's relatable.
Jack is this derpy eight grader who feels out of touch with his closest friends after a two-week winter vacation and who is bullied in the locker room by a post-pubescent classmate. He's so insecure about his status as a late bloomer that he assumes his shortcomings in the puberty arena are why his friends didn't call him or hang out with him during the break. What does Jack do? Well, because this is fiction and not real life, Jack doesn't keep quiet and try to blend. Oh, no. Instead he makes absurd, hilarious, and suuuuper cringe-worthy
I think a lot of kids can really relate to Jack's struggle. Children are usually pretty open about things, especially when they're mad at you. But something about middle school makes kids go really private. It could be puberty, or it could be something else. But suddenly you feel really insecure about everything. Sometimes you can't figure out why your best friend won't talk to you. So Jack makes the only conclusion he can (because he's fixating on his body so why wouldn't his friends be?) and then tries to fix it by pretending to have hit puberty. As an adult reading this book, I'm like, Jack, obviously that's not why your friends didn't call you, but I'm an adult, and I tried to keep that in mind while reading. This book is NOT directed toward me. It very much feels tailored toward a younger audience and has a perfect young voice. I really appreciate that.
As mentioned in School Library Journal's full review, there are copious references toward anatomy and masturbating, and while I think it's good to have that honesty, it won't be for every reader. But I definitely would recommend it to readers in 5-9th grades because if it is for them, it will be for them. If that makes sense. It's funny and explores not only a boy's relationship with his body but also with friends and family. Spurt discusses loneliness and also using talents and exploring interests when you're a teen. Parents, teachers, and librarians would do well to make sure this books gets into the hands of young readers everywhere.
Praise for Spurt:“Hilarious, addictive, brilliantly-warped... like Judd Apatow and Seth Rogen crossed with Diary of a Wimpy Kid” — Stuart Gibbs, New York Times bestselling author of the Spy School series
“Funny, heartfelt, and likely to appeal to reluctant readers, especially boys on the cusp of puberty”—School Library Journal
“A refreshing take on body image, acceptance and the need to fit in. The novel’s moments of profundity are subtle yet powerful, and masterfully balanced with humour. Spurt is appealingly naughty.” — Books+Publishing
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About the Author:
5 winners will receive a copy of Spurt by Chris Miles.
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