Trash Can Days, by Teddy Steinkellner (2013)

Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Interest Level: 12-15
Trash Can DaysThanks to NetGalley for the pre-pub e-edition of this middle-school novel that will break your heart as it makes you laugh out loud. Jake Schwartz is starting the seventh grade. At 12, he’s entering puberty but longs for the playful carefree days of childhood, climbing jungle gyms, walking to school with his best friend Danny, and playing basketball. But Jake is left behind as Danny shoots up in height, takes an interest in girls and prefers hanging with his cousins even though they are linked to Hispanic gangs. First-time author Steinkellner does a great job of describing the world of today’s tweens and early teens, but the realism is tough to take at times, even as you laugh over the “epic fails,” as another reviewer put it. The girls are nasty, the boys are brutally violent, the teachers are oblivious and the parents are largely absent. It’s hard to like as an adult, but I would have loved this one as a young teen. It will be hard to keep this on the shelves, I predict. The writing is succinct and accessible, and while the plot is fairly straightforward for an adult, younger readers will enjoy the drama and tension as loves develop, friendships falter and even a hopeless geek manages a remarkable triumph. A note to librarians: violence and sexual references place this squarely on the YA bookshelves, though a playful cover might indicate otherwise.
More discussion and reviews of this novel:


About Michelle Mallette
I'm just trying to keep track of the books I've read - what I liked and what isn't worth re-reading. My work as a librarian has included youth services so you'll find a wide range of interests from picture books and teen dystopia to adult sci-fi, road trip novels, and nonfiction. Comments and communication is always welcome.

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