Central Middle School is in dire straights in Arthur John Stewart’s first novel, Odd Ball, and no one knows just how to fix it. The students the book follows are all from different family situations, have different friends, and all want something different out of their middle school experience. Kevin just doesn’t want people calling him a geek (he thinks he isn’t, he can talk to girls); Jobbi, a recent immigrant from a small town in Latvia, doesn’t want to get beaten up every day for the way he talks; Paula wants to be noticed; and Stephanie wants everything to be like it was last year – fun.
Odd Ball skips around all of these (and a few other) characters’ lives, all detailing what it is like to be in middle school and unhappy. Everyone wants change, but who will step up and demand it from themselves and from everyone around them? The students find it hard to be different when doing so makes you the target for some harsh bullies, and sometimes even harsher families.
Jobbi earns some respect when he joins the school hockey team, and Kevin learns that maybe being a geek is not so bad if it means you have friends. And finally Stephanie decides that if she wants change so badly, she is the one who is going to have to put in the hard work to get it. She plans a school dance, but not just any dance, an event that will bring together rival gangs, geek, jocks, and all the other kids in a way that no one thought possible.
Odd Ball is a book that will remind anyone what it was like to be in grade seven or eight, and will help those that still are understand that things can get better. Friends, teachers, and sometimes a little trust in yourself can lead to great things, or at least one heck of a party.
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