A lot of things can be said about Owen Birmbaum. He is twelve years old and the fattest kid in school. It’s not mean – it’s statistics. He hasn’t always been this way – only for the last two years. Another thing you can say about Owen is he is an easy target for bullies – even his gym teacher has targeted him as a source of personal entertainment and new feats of humiliation are orchestrated with each and every class.
Owen is not the only one having trouble. He is very close with his little sister Jeremy. Her name is actually Caitlyn, but she belongs to a club called GWAB (Girls Who Are Boys) where the girls are required to refer to one another by boy names, wear boy clothes, and cut their hair short. Things have not always been this way for Owen and Jeremy.
One thing Owen has going for him is he is smart. Really smart – he has an IQ one point shy of genius status, but he doesn’t brag about it. This eccentric kid invents really cool things like the Nemesis – a device kind of like a TV that shows things from the past, and Owen really needs to see something from a specific date and time in his past because that is when everything changed so dramatically for this brother and sister.
This story is laden with the trials, tribulations and miseries of middle school life told directly from this quirky kid with a heart that is even bigger than he is. Throughout all the humorous events of the story, the author engages you with this tale of two compelling kids that you can’t help but root for, particularly as snippets of their past are slowly revealed and Owen discovers the answers are not in the past, but in the present, and this is what will determine the future.
This story is humorous, honest, and above all else heartwarming. SLOB has been awarded the Junior Library Guild Award and, in my opinion, is destined to receive many more accolades.
By Ellen Potter
Hardback: 199 pages
Recommended for Ages: 9-12
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