Being the new kid at school can be really tough. But being the new, fat, deaf kid in a school without an interpreter or a captioning system? I can’t even imagine! Luckily, Will Halpin has an uncanny ability to lipread and doesn’t much care what the “cool kids” think. He has surmised, though, that everyone else is practically willing to kill each other for an invite to the upcoming birthday party of an über-popular jock named Pat. This story isn’t just about the difficulties Will faced with main-streaming and making friends, though. The real story is about how Will and Devon Smiley forged their new friendship while trying to figure out how Pat ended up dead during a field trip to the Happy Memory Coal Mine.
I enjoyed this story for a number of reasons, but first and foremost is the fact that there a good mix of humor and mystery. It was definitely more Castle than CSI, if you know what I mean. The fact that Josh Berk even managed to include a lot of information about deaf culture in a way that was neither clunky nor didactic was also awesome. The original book cover is honestly the only thing I didn’t like about this book. Luckily, it has been re-released with this new cover, which is more likely to appeal to teens and also hints at the mystery within.