Charlie Jackson is cool, he's smart, he's popular, and the cutest girl in his grade has a crush on him. But Charlie does not like to read, so he has a long standing agreement with his friend, Timmy, to read books for him, and tell him a detailed summary of the plot. Then the unthinkable happens. Timmy develops a crush on a girl, and with it a conscious. He decides he isn't going to cheat for Charlie any more, and Charlie finds himself scrambling to find a replacement. It is amazing, and funny, what lengths Charlie will go to to avoid doing his reading assignment. Of course, in the end he gets caught and has to face the dire consequences.
I guess after reading Schooled I was still in the mood for school books. I not not much of a fan of Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and this one looks like it is catering to the market, but I decided to read it anyway. I was very pleasantly surprised. The reason why I like this book better than Wimpy Kid is that Charlie is actually really socially intelligent. Maybe because I was so socially awkward as a teen myself, I find it painful to read about kids who are socially backward. Charlie, however, is popular and cool. I also liked it because the author resisted the temptation to have Charlie end up discovering the joy of reading in the end. Charlie ends the book disliking reading as much as he did in the beginning. He faces the consequences of his decisions, but he doesn't have a miraculous conversion. Some kids never do. Greenwald does a good job of communicating that not being a reader makes a lot of things in life harder, but it is not the end of the world. As much as I hate to admit it, you can still be a good person and have a good life, even if you are not a reader. (220 p)