I abandoned this book. Really, I lost interest and returned it to the library. Then I checked it out again, finished it, and loved it. The problem was, it really does start out slow, and the title is misleading, so I decided to put my time into better books. A month or so later, I was reading some reviews of this book on Barnes and Noble's site, and everyone loved it. Some kid said it was the best book he or she had ever read! Seriously! I figured either that reader doesn't get out much, or I should possibly give it one more try, and I'm glad I did.
This is the story of a 12-year-old boy who hates to read, and who is strongly resisting the summer reading his teacher has assigned. In this way, it's kind of like a ton of other books, Diary of a Wimpy Kid or others, but it's not a graphic novel. Before long we find out that this kid, Derek, had a babysitter who died trying to save him when he was only two, and he makes it his summer project to find out more about this girl. In between driving his parents crazy and complaining like crazy about the Learning Camp he has to attend, Derek does some snooping and manages to get all sorts of information about his former babysitter, and gets dangerously close to doing something stupid. Of course, then he does something stupid, and the rest of the book is about how that plays out in surprising and important ways. By the end of the summer (and the book), the Derek we see has changed quite a bit, and his learning process has somehow transformed the book from a novel about a whiny middle school kid to a nice, thoughtful story about family, friendship, and what's really important in life.
Like I said, it's NOT a graphic novel, though the author's son filled the margins of the books with interesting stick-figure drawings of many interesting words from the story. I wouldn't say that helps the story at all, but it is unusual and kind of cool. This is really a book for anyone, as boys and girls alike will find characters and situations they will relate to. Learn from my experience, and stick it out through the dull parts, and you won't regret it.