The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin is written by Josh Berk. It was published in 2010 by Alfred A. Knopf. Berk’s website can be found here.
Genre: Young Adult, Realistic, Mystery
“When Will Halpin transfers from his all-deaf school into a mainstream Pennsylvania high school, he faces discrimination and bullying, but still manages to solve a mystery surrounding the death of a popular football player in his class.”
~Library of Congress
So what’s happening on this bus? The most interesting stuff is in the back. All the cool kids sit in the back. It is pretty much a directly rising slope of coolness from the front of the bus to the back. From me to a weird skinny guy in a football shirt who clearly isn’t on the team to Marie (whose last name is Stepcoat) to the trio from my morning bust stop: A.J. Fischels, Teresa Lockhart, and Gabby Myers. If you keep going, you’d fly out the back of the bus onto the road itself and land in the cars belonging to the kids far too cool to ever set foot on a bus.
Smiley_Man3000: It is really sad what happened to Pat.
Smiley_Man3000: Who do you think it was? Do you think it was someone who was mad about not getting invited to the party? A.J.? Do you want to help me find out?
HamburgerHalpin: why? u hated pat right? he flushed your suit
Smiley_Man3000: Smileys have been cops for three generations. Solving crimes is in my blood. Plus, I spent my childhood wearing out those Hardy Boys books from the library. I think I can take a crack at it!
HamburgerHalpin: aunt gertrude’s cookin’ better be good
Smiley_Man3000: So does that mean you are in?
HamburgerHalpin: let’s do this frank
Warnings: Death, hormonal teenage boys
Recommended Age Range: 14+
What I Liked:
I loved this book! It was fun (and funny) and the mystery was pretty good. Will Halpin was such a great narrator, with a nice witty and sarcastic voice. He’s also bursting with self-confidence; he doesn’t mind that he’s fat and he doesn’t mind that he’s deaf, and he doesn’t let the (small/miniscule amount of) bullying that does happen to him get to him.
This book also is a great way to introduce someone to the ways of the deaf world. The deaf community and their beliefs are talked about briefly and Will likes to explain sign language occasionally. It’s not in-depth knowledge, but it’s enough to make someone want to learn more. I took two semesters of ASL in college and I really love the language.
I also liked how Berk usually showed two sides to each character, with the exception of Pat. It made them more nuanced and realistic.
What I Didn’t Like:
The summary is a tad inaccurate.
The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin is a great introduction to the deaf world and can be used as a starting point for those who are interested in learning more. It also has a memorable protagonist, a decent mystery, and enough charm to hope for a sequel. It’s tons of fun.
Coming Up Next: In the Hands of the Goddess by Tamora Pierce