Ian Hart ends up in trouble the last day of middle school. The teacher had given a writing assignment, but Ian didn’t get it done. At lunch, one of his “friends,” Devon, plays a cruel trick on a boy named Max. Devon gets Ian to trade lunch with him. It’s not difficult since Ian’s mother packed him a peanut butter sandwich even after Ian begged her not to. Devon gives the sandwich to Max, who is highly allergic to peanuts and immediately goes into anaphylactic shock, nearly dying. The boys are found out, and, because it is so serious, Devon, Ian, and two other boys are sent to a reform summer camp. It is there Ian learns a lot about what true friendship is and how cruel bullies can be.
Author Justin Weinberger seems to have some experience with middle-school bullies and how they work. This is an excellent portrait of bullies and their methods and meanness. It’s not a perfect book, as some of it stretches readers’ credulity, but it is pretty effective at getting its core messages across. The writing is good and the characters fully developed and believable. Middle-grade readers will like this.
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