I know I promised you this review a few weeks ago, but I just finished “The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin” by Josh Berk last night. I have to admit, it took me longer to get through it than I thought it would, mostly because I took a break in the middle to read “The Passage.” (Which, by the way, was REALLY good. It’s not by a TBF author, BUT Jennifer Smith, a former TBF author, is mentioned in the acknowledgments, as she served as a first reader for the book.)
“The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin” is about Will Halpin, a (self-proclaimed) fat, deaf kid who transfers from his local Deaf school to be mainstreamed at the public high school. Shortly after his arrival, one of the most popular kids at school dies while on a field trip to the local mine. When an initial police investigation reveals that the student was most likely pushed, Will and his new (and only) friend, Smiley, set out to solve the mystery.
Will and Smiley are both likeable characters who immediately endear themselves to the reader. Because Will is deaf and Smiley’s knowledge of American Sign Language is limited, they converse primarily through IM conversations and text messages. These conversations are simply hilarious.
Also interesting, especially to me, since I'm a communication sciences and disorders major (which means that I study disorders that impede “normal” communication), was the book’s discussion of deafness. The little “d” deaf versus big “D” Deaf debate is touched upon, as is, very briefly, the controversy surrounding cochlear implants. The differences between American Sign Language and Standard English grammar are also explained, although briefly.
All in all, for anyone looking for a quick, fun murder mystery or for anyone interested in deafness or Deaf culture, “Hamburger Halpin” is a good bet. (There’s a pun hidden in that last sentence. You’ll get it if you read the book … there’s something else to motivate you!)
Let me know, readers, have you read “The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin?” What did you think?