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Title: Trash Can Days: A Middle School Saga
Author: Teddy Steinkellner
Publisher: Disney Hyperion Books
Publication Date: August 20th, 2013
Genre: Middle Grade; Realistic Fiction
Jake Schwartz is not looking forward to middle school. Puberty feels light-years away; he’s not keen on the cool clothes or lingo; and he has the added pressure of preparing for his bar mitzvah. The only saving grace is that Danny Uribe, his lifelong best friend, will be by his side…
Or will he? Since Danny’s summer growth spurt, there’s been a growing distance between him and Jake. Danny is excited to explore all that junior high has to offer…especially the girls (and most notably Hannah, Jake’s older sister). But gang life has its allure, too, and he soon finds himself in over his head.
Meanwhile, Hannah is dealing with her own problems–being queen bee is not easy. The other girls are out for blood, and boys are so…exhausting. Danny surprises her with his maturity, but can Hannah’s reputation survive if she’s linked to a sevvy? And what would Jake think about her hooking up with his best friend?
Dorothy Wu could not care less about junior-high drama. She is content to stay in her bedroom and write epic stories of her adventures as a warrior mermaid maiden. But that changes when she discovers the school’s writing club. There, she meets a young lad with heroic potential and decides that life outside her fantasy world just might have some appeal.
In the course of one year at San Paulo Junior High, these four lives will intersect in unique and hilarious ways. Friendships will grow and change. Reputations will be transformed. And maybe someone will become a man.
The writing in this book was nothing special, although it definitely grasped a middle schoolers mind very well. The transition between characters POV's was very smooth, and all the characters stories intertwined except for Dorothy's. It bothered me how much Danny, Hannah, and Jake were involved with each other, while Dorothy was only connected to the trio via her friendship with Jake. I think that there could have been a little bit more manipulation to the story to allow Dorothy to be more involved. The climax of the book was not just intense, but also surprising. The end of the book sort of made up for the adequate bulk of the story.
Danny is exactly what you expect every Middle School boy to be like, and that led him to be extremely annoying. His involvement with the gang and his secret relationship kept him interesting, and at least in the end we know that he's not entirely bad.
Jake was my favorite character. He is the poster boy for that kid who is suddenly in middle school and has no clue what has happened, yet instead of trying to be something that he was not, Jake stayed true to himself. It was sad how lonely Jake was throughout the book, but in the end his friends and sister came through for him, even though it was kind of, no it was really, too late.
Hannah's ideas and thoughts flopped around like a fish; who she liked, who her friends were, and whether she was nice or not. At first she was extremely superficial, and then her big change came across as fake too. In the end, Hannah remained sort of a mystery to me, she was harder to figure out than I expected.
Dorothy kind of bothered me throughout the book. Her lack of interest in school, and her addiction to things like video games kind of made her not appealing. While it was cool that she was a writer. like myself, her stories for sort of sprinkled awkwardly through out the book, and felt like fantasy romance novels that she had found under her mother's bed. Dorothy's one redeaming quality was her determination to be a good friend to Jake.
This book ended up beings so dramatic and full of things that just don't happen in regular middle schools that I was disappointed, and yet the ending was surprising and unexpected. I enjoyed the characters most of the time, and was usually able to look the other way when something happened that just usually wouldn't.