This middle-grade debut, which will surely appeal to fans of Wonder, explores self-image, friendship, and grief, while highlighting the importance of taking chances. It will make you laugh and cry, and you will be eager to share it with someone you love.
Seventh grade is not going well for Will Levine. Kids at school bully him because of his funny-looking chin. His science teacher finds out about the turtles he spent his summer collecting from the marsh behind school and orders him to release them back into the wild. And for his bar mitzvah community service project, he has to go to the hospital to visit RJ, an older boy struggling with an incurable disease. Unfortunately, Will hates hospitals.
At first, the boys don't get along, but then RJ shares his bucket list with Will. Among the things he wants to do: ride a roller coaster, go to a concert and a school dance, and swim in the ocean. To Will, happiness is hanging out in his room, alone, preferably with his turtles. But as RJ's disease worsens, Will realizes he needs to tackle the bucket list on his new friend's behalf before it's too late. It seems like an impossible mission, way outside Will's comfort zone. But as he completes each task with RJ's guidance, Will learns that life is too short to live in a shell.
About the Author
M. EVAN WOLKENSTEIN is a high school teacher and writer. He attended the University of Wisconsin in Madison, the Pardes Institute for Jewish Studies, and Hebrew University. His work can be found in Tablet magazine and the Washington Post, and on BimBam.com. He lives with his wife and daughter in the San Francisco Bay Area. Turtle Boy is his debut novel.
"Turtle Boy is a marvelous coming-of-age story . . . about bravery and the redemptive power of friendship. A perfect summer read." —Kveller
“A story about what it means to be brave when all you want to do is hide in your shell. Everyone deserves a friend like Will Levine." —Lynne Kelly, author of Song for a Whale.
"A wholesome blend of humor and grief, Will’s story will appeal to younger and older readers alike. A beautiful debut that wears its heart on its sleeve." —The Nerd Daily
"A strong debut novel about grief, loss, and coming out of one's shell." —School Library Journal
"Turtle Boy—both boy and book—is a winner." —Booklist, starred review
"A satisfying arc, from sadness to dawning hope and strength." —Kirkus Reviews
"A masterful mingling of deeply resonant themes, including self-esteem, loneliness, loss, and the rewards of improbable friendships." —Publishers Weekly