Chronicle Books, 2015. 978-1452134772
Synopsis: I didn’t mean to do it.
Okay, maybe I meant to do it, but I did it cause we needed the money for my brother.
Y’know, cause he has this trach in his neck to help him breathe. And the meds are expensive.
Mom thinks I don’t know about the money problems, but I do.
Since dad walked out…well, what would you have done? Don’t tell me you wouldn’t, cause I know you’d be lying.
I just wanted to help. I just wanted to help.
Why I picked it up: The premise of the story intrigued me and I like novels in verse.
Why I finished it: It’s somewhat appropriate that this novel was written in verse because it makes the reader and Timothy consider things about the world – most notably the hardships we all go through and the lengths to which we will go to help those who are closest to us. We ponder the kindness of strangers and the feelings of fear and uncertainty. We acknowledge the support of friends who will come to our aid when they see us struggling. Timothy may begin the story feeling like a screw-up, but we see him gradually transform in the year he is keeping a court-ordered journal. While the reader will note that he never really expresses a desire to repent for his crime, we do see him working toward finding solutions that will allow for him to keep his family together. His desire to redeem himself and the difficulties he has with staying out of trouble almost prove more than he can handle, an internal conflict that Timothy struggles with throughout most of the book. I also find that we ‘see’ a different side to the story when the author uses poetry instead of prose. Not only are we really getting inside Timothy’s head, we are given room to form our own opinions and interpretations about whether or not he will or has reformed. The reader can set their own scenes as they read each of the entries over the course of the 52 weeks chronicled in the novel. Holt also asks the reader to consider their own relationships with the people around us, to think about those things for which we will fight and which battles we will choose. It’s a powerful and poignant look at a boy who, although he could be considered a delinquent, is navigating life the only way he knows how.
Other related materials: Rhyme Schemer by K.A. Holt; Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko; Al Capone Shines My Shoes by Gennifer Choldenko; Al Capone Does My Homework by Gennifer Choldenko; Rules by Cynthia Lord; Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine; So B. It by Sarah Weeks; Knees: The Mixed-Up World of a boy with Dyslexia by Vanita Oelschlager, illustrated by Joe Rossi; The Crossover by Kwame Alexander; El Deafo by Cece Bell; Paperboy by Vince Vawter; Tangerine by Edward Bloor; Touching Spirit Bear by Ben Mikaelsen; Ghost of Spirit Bear by Ben Mikaelsen