THE DARK DAYS OF HAMBURGER HALPIN, by Josh Berk (Knopf 2010). Will Halpin is overweight and mostly deaf. This year, though, he's left the School for the Deaf for Carbon High. At first, he struggles in his efforts to mainstream himself, warily becoming friends with Smiley, the weirdest kid in school. But then Pat Chambers, the school's star quarterback (and all-around jerk) is killed on a field trip to the local coal mine.
Can Will and Smiley solve the mystery? Was it the pot-smoking bus driver? The sexy math teacher? The on-again, off-again girlfriend? Enemies of Pat's father, the casino owner? Or was it the ghost of Dummy Halpin, who died in a mining accident a century ago?
Together, Will and Smiley unearth more than they bargained for...
THE DARK DAYS OF HAMBURGER HALPIN is a wry mystery that illuminates the social intricacies and mayhem of high school. Will's attempts to both solve the puzzle and become something different are funny and well-wrought and should resonate with anyone who has ever tried to fit in someplace new.