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17 August 2006 @ 08:51 am
Christopher Paul Curtis' BUCKING THE SARGE (4 stars)  
One of the Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults in 2005, BUCKING THE SARGE is a solid read by Christopher Paul Curtis. The early novel of his, THE WATSONS GO TO BURMINGHAM:1963, was chosen as a Newbery Honor Book in 1996, and another of his, BUD, NOT BUDDY, won the Newbery Award Medal in 2000. An already acclaimed author, Curtis has delivered the humorous, if not outlandish story, of Luther T. Farrell, a young black boy and freshman in high school, who lives with and works for the Sarge (a.k.a. Mom), the mother of all mothers.

With his best friend Sparky, his love for philosophy, and his hatred for Flint, Michigan, Luther gets promoted to head of the Sarge’s group home. At the same time, he’s trying to think up the kind of idea that will win him 1st prize in the school’s science fair for the third year in a year, an unprecedented feat. The problem is that the ordained-in-the-stars love of his life that he never talks to, Shayla Patrick, is his greatest competition, having nearly defeated him the year before.

While Luther’s working his tail off for the Sarge, Sparky is scheming up ways to get rich quick, searching for the perfect case to take to Dontay Gaddy, the Big D.O.G. lawyer at 1-800-SUE-EM-ALL. Luther has a different plan. For a couple more years, he’s going to keep working for the Sarge because she’s loading up his education fund and that’s the only real way to climb the ladder.

However, his new promotion at the group home gives him access to information he wishes he’d never found, the kind that changes your life forever, for better or for worse. With Sparky and Shayla still doing their things, Luther’s going to have to figure out who the Sarge really is, what he’s going to do about her, and how in the world he’s ever going to make it out of Flint.

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