Windows and mirrors: two important functions of books are to give us windows onto the world beyond (hence my fascination with stories set on farms when I was a tween) and mirrors in which we can see people like ourselves (hence my ongoing fascination with YA literature that lets me see the teen I was and still am inside). THE DARK DAYS OF HAMBURGER HALPIN by Josh Berk (Knopf 2010) can easily serve as both.
Meet Will Halpin, a hearing impaired kid who has decided to enter into the "mainstream" at Carbon High School. To be certain, it is not an easy transition. Teachers turn their backs to write on the chalkboard during lectures. But that is the least of his concerns. Will becomes embroiled in a mystery on a class field trip to an old mine, a mine where someone named Will Halpin perished years before. When the field trip ends with the death of one of his classmates, Will is not certain it was an "accident". Now it is up to Will and his new sidekick and an old friend to help solve the mystery of the mine.
The book is more than a mystery, though. It is about fitting in and changing courses. It is about learning when to stand up and when to duck. Berk has created a humorous look at a high school where ANYone could be the perp from the crazy bus driver to the flirty math teacher to the threatening hulks of football players.
Off to donate blood shortly. Then, maybe a pedi and later a haircut. Getting all cleaned up for a family wedding in California next week.