Being a hefty, deaf newcomer almost makes Will Halpin the least popular guy at Coaler High. But when he befriends the only guy less popular than him, the dork-namic duo has the smarts and guts to figure out who knocked off the star quarterback. Will can’t hear what’s going on, but he’s a great observer. So, who did it? And why does that guy talk to his fingers? And will the beautiful girl ever notice him? (Okay, so Will’s interested in more than just murder . . .)
Those who prefer their heroes to be not-so-usual and with a side of wiseguy will gobble up this witty, geeks-rule debut.
New student Will Halpin is overweight and deaf, and he adeptly eavesdrops on conversations by lip-reading while his own inner monologue is off and running. Debut author Berk injects Will's narrative voice with humor, irreverence, and self-deprecation; readers are also privy to Will's occasional horny thoughts about girls, which are funny and genuine without being overly vulgar (“The first thing I notice is this: public school girls are freaking hot. Nice. I try to focus on that and not on the sinking feeling that it might be way harder not to fail here than I thought”). Midway through, the story really takes off: after a football player takes a spill down a mineshaft on a field trip, Will and his new friend Devon try to solve the mystery of the student's death. Investigations into sleazy teachers and liked (and not-so-well-liked) classmates ensue. Much of the book's second half takes place in IMs between Will and Devon, which push the story forward at a lively pace. An engrossing whodunit that subtly draws attention to social issues surrounding deafness. Ages 12–up. (Feb.)