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Annotation: Informed that he will be expected to say a few words at his cousin's wake, 13-year-old Jimmy struggles to come up with something nice to say about his bullying, destructive cousin before realizing that the words that are truly heard are the ones that matter the most.
Catalog Number: #169646
Format: Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Copyright Date: 2018
Edition Date: 2018
Pages: 293 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: 1-536-20092-1
ISBN 13: 978-1-536-20092-8
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2018960057
Dimensions: 21 cm.
Language: English
Reviews:
ALA Booklist
Honesty isn't always pretty, but it courses through Schmitt's debut in more ways than one. Jimmy, 13, is already uncomfortable at his cousin Patrick's wake, but that distress escalates to panic when Jimmy's mother informs him that he has to speak at tomorrow's funeral. As he stands in the funeral home, he racks his brain for a nice memory of Patrick e cousin he hated use for his eulogy. The narrative dips in and out of the wake to follow Jimmy's memories of his 13-year-old cousin, none of which is appropriate for a speech. The temperamental boy ruined every toy or occasion he touched, but Schmitt drops clues that place Patrick on the autism spectrum, sadly undiagnosed and untreated. Complex family relationships surface with humor and candor, with adults painted as flawed and prone to delivering sharp words or even a smack. All these elements combine to make the reader as uneasy as Jimmy, who, through his recollections, gains a better understanding of the boy lying in the coffin and, ultimately, of himself.
Horn Book
Thirteen-year-old Jimmy's cousin, Patrick, has unexpectedly died. Jimmy must deliver a brief eulogy but doesnt know what to say: he really didn't like Patrick, who ruined every landmark experience in Jimmy's life with his constant presence, out-of-control behavior, and escalating temper. Through flashbacks, Jimmy begins to recognize the complex dynamics that form his family. It's a huge step toward growing up, made believable through a thoughtful and intelligent protagonist.
Kirkus Reviews
Even at his cousin's wake, Jimmy maintains his snarky persona that so irritates his parents and others around him. It is the day before the wake when Jimmy's parents tell him that he must give a short eulogy for his 13-year-old cousin, Patrick. Immediately, Jimmy resists, as he can't imagine any positive remarks he can make about Patrick, as Patrick had done nothing but ruin many pivotal moments in Jimmy's life. "Patrick was the kind of guy who would kick your dog," Jimmy explains to readers. "And not to see what the dog would do but what you would do." Leading up to the time of the funeral, Jimmy reflects on different past experiences, times when Patrick always seemed to ruin every occasion. As the family gets closer to the actual funeral, these reflections help Jimmy to gain a more objective perspective of how troubled Patrick really was—not necessarily the intentionally destructive person Jimmy had painted Patrick to be. As Jimmy processes his memories, readers get an ever clearer understanding of a mentally ill child who desperately needs help but doesn't get it. Schmitt simultaneously paints a realistic picture of a close but flawed family who must navigate the sudden death of a young family member and all the feelings that come with it. The book adheres to the white default.A complicated, hard, and heartfelt look at a child's mental illness. (Fiction. 10-14)
Publishers Weekly
This emotionally raw first novel places eighth grader Jimmy in an impossible situation when his parents force him to eulogize Patrick, a recently deceased cousin he despised. The novel spans the wake and funeral, and titles such as -some people enjoy a wake like it-s a wedding,- introduce the chapters, which include flashback scenes with the volatile and sometimes explosive Patrick, who was Jimmy-s age. The flashbacks vary in pacing and effectiveness; the first, about their seven-year stint in the park district-s Junior Explorers, feels bloated, while others are stronger, especially a description of a Fourth of July party thrown by the formidable Grandma Mutz, during which Patrick attacks Jimmy with little firecrackers and Patrick-s father becomes enraged. Jimmy transcends speechlessness to offer an honest and unvarnished tribute. With dark comedy and raw authenticity, Schmitt captures the awkward moments of the funeral while exploring complicated family dynamics, untreated mental health issues, and family secrets. Ages 9-12. (Nov.)
Starred Review for Kirkus Reviews
Even at his cousin's wake, Jimmy maintains his snarky persona that so irritates his parents and others around him. It is the day before the wake when Jimmy's parents tell him that he must give a short eulogy for his 13-year-old cousin, Patrick. Immediately, Jimmy resists, as he can't imagine any positive remarks he can make about Patrick, as Patrick had done nothing but ruin many pivotal moments in Jimmy's life. "Patrick was the kind of guy who would kick your dog," Jimmy explains to readers. "And not to see what the dog would do but what you would do." Leading up to the time of the funeral, Jimmy reflects on different past experiences, times when Patrick always seemed to ruin every occasion. As the family gets closer to the actual funeral, these reflections help Jimmy to gain a more objective perspective of how troubled Patrick really was—not necessarily the intentionally destructive person Jimmy had painted Patrick to be. As Jimmy processes his memories, readers get an ever clearer understanding of a mentally ill child who desperately needs help but doesn't get it. Schmitt simultaneously paints a realistic picture of a close but flawed family who must navigate the sudden death of a young family member and all the feelings that come with it. The book adheres to the white default.A complicated, hard, and heartfelt look at a child's mental illness. (Fiction. 10-14)
Word Count: 57,576
Reading Level: 4.7
Interest Level: 4-7
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 4.7 / points: 8.0 / quiz: 199278 / grade: Middle Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:4.2 / points:14.0 / quiz:Q75888
Lexile: 680L

How do you give a eulogy when you can’t think of one good thing to say? A poignant, funny, and candid look at grief, family secrets, difficult people, and learning to look behind the facade.

As if being stuffed into last year’s dress pants at his cousin’s wake weren’t uncomfortable enough, thirteen-year-old Jimmy has just learned from his mother that he has to say a few words at the funeral the next day. Why him? What could he possibly say about his cousin, who ruined everything they did? He can’t recall one birthday party, family gathering, or school event with Patrick that didn’t result in injury or destruction. As Jimmy attempts to navigate the odd social norms of the wake, he draws on humor, heartfelt concern, and a good deal of angst while racking his brain and his memory for a decent and meaningful memory to share. But it’s not until faced with a microphone that the realization finally hits him: it’s not the words that are spoken that matter the most, but those that are truly heard.


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