Trash Can Days: A Middle School Saga

Teddy Steinkellner. Disney-Hyperion, $16.99 (352p) ISBN 978-1-4231-6632-0
Four middle-school students narrate this exploration of friendship, relationships, and class in California. Jake Schwartz is nervous about starting seventh grade, but at least his best friend Danny Uribe, whose parents live and work at Jake’s family’s mansion, will be at his side. But Danny decides he wants some space from Jake, both to reconnect with his Latino cousins and to pursue Hannah, Jake’s older sister. Eighth-grader Hannah, meanwhile, is obsessed with gossip until she becomes the subject of it, and socially awkward, unrepentantly geeky Dorothy Wu lives vicariously through the fantasy stories she writes while pining for Jake. Debut novelist Steinkellner uses IM conversations, Facebook posts, school bulletins, emails, and text message exchanges to flesh out the kids’ complicated lives, pulling in everything from gang pressures and ethnic tensions to hurtful gossip and even the administrative pushback their new English teacher is facing. In a story that’s funny, crass, painful, and optimistic, Steinkellner skillfully juggles a large cast, giving even minor characters distinctive voices and making their disappointments and growth feel real. Ages 10–14. Agent: Alex Glass, Trident Media Group. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 06/17/2013
Release date: 08/01/2013
Paperback - 352 pages - 978-1-4231-6660-3
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