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I Kill The Mockingbird by Paul Acampora

"Life is good. Death is a mystery. The bird needs work."

It's a quote from page 61 of I Kill the Mockingbird by Paul Acampora, and in some ways it sums up the entire book, both plot-wise and vibe-wise. (Is vibe-wise a thing? If not, it should be.)

Smart, funny, and unputdownable, the story is told first-person by Lucy, the daughter of the principal of St. Brigid's Catholic School. As we find out from the start, Lucy has had an awful lot on her plate, besides just finishing 8th grade: her mother is just getting better after nearly dying of cancer, her favorite teacher (an English teacher named Mr. Nowak but fondly referred to as "Fat Bob") literally dropped dead at her feet during the school year, leaving her stuck with the somewhat obnoxious first-year teacher, Miss Caridas, who has just assigned a raft of books for summer reading, and Lucy has a bit of a thing for Michael, one of her best friends since forever. Her other best friend, Elena, has said that Michael likes Lucy, too.

All three of the soon-to-be 9th graders are bibliophiles, and have all read the entire summer list already, including To Kill a Mockingbird, which is the last book on Miss Caridas's list and the only book they'd have had to read if Fat Bob had lived. While the friends have varying opinions on the merits of the book, they all agree that most of their schoolmates won't bother to read it. Given the loss of Fat Bob, they decide that's a tragedy that must be avoided, and the girls concoct a scheme to make reading To Kill a Mockinbird seem cool:

They will remove the book from the shelves of every bookstore and library they can get to (and hide them elsewhere in the shelves) so as to create a sense of scarcity. Oh yeah, and they'll leave flyers in place of the books. And set up a web presence for "I Kill the Mockingbird". What could go wrong? I mean, it's not like it seems it would become a national movement . . . until it does.

Along the way are a rather humorous funeral, plenty of photography shoots, baseball games, internet use, and a first kiss. Plus Santa with a bloody ax. Look, you'll just have to read the book.

But not until I share this lovely homage to independent bookstores, which is found on pages 78-79:

It's the small bookstores like Mort's that give us the biggest headaches. Those places believe in customer service and personal attention, which means that you can't get away with anything. More than once we end up actually buying books to avoid raising the owners' suspicions. Finally, so that we won't go broke, we admit that independent booksellers are just too smart for us, and we decide to leave most of them alone.

Highly recommended for middle-grade readers, especially those who like books and aren't fond of required summer reading.

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( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 20th, 2014 03:46 pm (UTC)
Sounds like a good read. I'll check it out.
And To Kill A Mockingbird is one of my all time favs.
Jun. 23rd, 2014 01:08 pm (UTC)
It's great!
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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