Teen Stuff: Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin, by Josh Berk
In The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin, Will Halpin is your average sarcastic, witty sixteen year old. He recently transferred from the School for the Deaf to attend the mainstream Carbon High. Not only is he singled out for being deaf, but also for being overweight and sudden friends with Devon Smiley, one of the biggest dorks in school.
Told from Will’s POV, the book is hilarious, as he has a lot to “say”, and keeps a notebook with observations of his classmates. He is skilled in lip reading, which is how he gets by at school, and he uses this to his advantage to get to know his peers from afar.
Popular football star Pat Chambers loses his life on a class field trip to Happy Memory Coal Mine. Who dunnit? Was it Will? Devon? The wacky busdriver “Jimmy Porkrinds”? The svelte Miss Prefontaine? The ghost of Dummy Halpin? Will and Devon, a misfit Hardy Boys team, assign themselves to the case and begin snooping around. They communicate their findings through text messages and minimal sign language.
Eventually the mystery gets solved, Will settles in, and it turns out that Will Halpin just might be a happy camper at his new high school after all. It’s great to see underdogs succeed! (For grades 9 and up.)