Monday, March 28, 2011

MG Book Review: Slob, by Ellen Potter

General Information
Publisher:  Penguin Group
Year of publication:  2009
# of chapters:  17
# of pages:  199
Genre:  Contemporary
Website:  www.ellenpotter.com

Plot summary:  (from inside flap)
Twelve-year-old Owen Birnbaum is the fattest kid in school. But he’s also a genius who invents cool contraptions— like a TV that shows the past. Something happened two years ago that he needs to see. But genius or not, there is much Owen can’t outthink. Like his gym coach, who’s on a mission to humiliate him. Or the way his Oreos keep disappearing from his lunch. He’s sure that if he can only get the TV to work, things will start to make sense. But it will take a revelation for Owen, not science, to see the answer’s not in the past, but the present. That no matter how large he is on the outside, he doesn’t have to feel small on the inside.

With her trademark humor, Ellen Potter has created a larger-than-life character and story whose weight is immense when measured in heart.


Positive Points
I love the voice!  This book is told from the POV of an overweight twelve-year-old boy.  I would have found it a bit offensive, maybe, if the POV had been from anyone else, but Owen's comments about his large size and how he deals with it is sometimes funny, sometimes deep, always interesting.  After reading the first few pages, I immediately decided I liked that kid.  He made me laugh out loud several times, and he also made me think.  He doesn't deny or try to hide the cruel way people treat him because he's fat. His honesty is refreshing, and also very moving at times.  Kids (and even teachers) can be so cruel, sometimes.

The plot is intriguing from beginning to end.  First, there is the mystery of the Oreo cookies disappearing from Owen's lunch bag.  Then he mentions about an invention he's working on, but we don't find out until later what it's supposed to do.  We learn about it little by little.  He also refers to the event two years before that made him become fat, gradually revealing what it was.  He wasn't always that way.  All these mini-mysteries had me keep reading to figure things out.

The characters are unique and each have a distinct voice.  Owen's voice is awesome.  By the end of the book, I felt like he was someone I knew.  A real kid.  His younger sister insists on being called a boy's name, Jeremy.  I found Nima, his young Buddhist friend from India, particularly interesting, adding a touch of spirituality in Owen's life.

Negative Points
I couldn't find any!  I give this book five stars.

What makes this book unique
The voice, definitely!  Here are a few samples, from chapter one:

     I've had three Oreos in my lunch ever since.  It's a ritual for me.  I look forward to them.  I really do.  It's like a spiritual thing.  No matter how lousy my morning was, those three Oreo cookies remind me that life also has its high points.  Its moments of bliss.
     If there was any day I needed a moment of bliss, it was that day.

(...)

     One really skinny kid named Justin Esposito was actually clutching at his stomach as though he were going to be sick.  I felt so bad for him that I almost forgot to feel bad for me.  Nima would have liked that.  He would have thought it was very Buddhist of me.
     I'll tell you more about Nima later.

These two excerpts made me want to turn the page and continue reading to find out what dreadful thing will happen and who Nima is.  The conversational tone makes the readers feel Owen is talking to them, telling them his story in a very casual way.

Overall Impression
Loved this book!  This is the first time I read a book by Ellen Potter.  I had The Kneebone Boy on my to-read list, but it was already checked out at the library.  My son took this one out instead, and recommended I read it.  I'm so glad he did!  Very well written.

My Rating:


Thinking of purchasing this book? I'll make it easy for you:

7 comments:

tfwalsh said...

Haven't heard of this book, and your review left me wanting to read it. Just checked out Ellen Potter's site, and ohh I'm intrigued... I also want to read The Kneebone Boy. Great review.

gareclog said...

I really enjoyed this post. You write about this topic very well. There are many cherished moments in life, why not wear a beautiful dress! When looking back on special memories of your child wearing a gorgeous dress, it will make a fond memory.

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Cheree said...

Fantastic review, Annie. I haven't heard of this, but it definitely makes me want to read it now.

Emailman said...

You are so good at doing book reviews, Annie! This book sounds like a great read.

Fred Rex Jonathan said...

I love this book.
I'm from Malaysia..

Penis said...

Fck bitches get mOney

Anonymous said...

Hello

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