Will Halpin is a fat deaf high schooler. Devon Smiley is a pony-tailed nerdy high schooler. But when star quarterback and local millionaire’s son Pat Chambers is found dead in a mineshaft, these two boys put their heads together to solve a crime that no one expected them to solve. Being deaf and hefty doesn’t stop Will from finding out the truth, even if it means pairing up with the most picked-on kid in his class. Especially if it means being noticed as more than just the new deaf kid.
Author Josh Berk has created quite the character in Will Halpin, especially considering the fact that Josh is not deaf himself. While most readers might not be able to pinpoint any discrepancies in the character, he seems very believable and his methods of communication are not outrageous. Will and his parents communicate through sign language, Will and Devon communicate via Smartphones. The deafness and muteness seem to be the main focus of the novel, but not so much that you get tired of the fact.
While Will’s character shines, the secondary characters do not. The star quarterback’s girlfriend, Leigha, has a lot of potential to be developed as a character, to be understood more by the reader and to grow and change throughout the novel. But she doesn’t, which was disappointing from my perspective. Will’s parents are a large part of the story, but we don’t ever get a chance to know them well, just from the surface.
As for the idea of this novel being a “boy book,” I would most definitely go there. Not only is the main character a teenage boy, but the story is about him solving a mystery. And the novel is filled with IM conversations. And he has a crush on the most popular girl in his class. What more can you ask for?
As this is a debut novel from the author, I will be looking for more from him. Any book that will appeal to teenage boys and have a dynamic main character is a great one, in my opinion.
The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin
by Josh Berk
Published by Knopf Books