Svingen, Arne The Ballad of a Broken Nose, 214 pgs. Margaret K. McElderry Books (Simon & Schuster), 2016. (Originally published in Norway in 2012). Language: PG (8 swears, 0 “f”); Mature Content: PG (some drug references - adult drug use); Violence: PG - Fighting.
13-year-old Bart is a bit of a loner at school, he has a difficult life -his mother drinks too much and he is often neglected. She has enrolled him in boxing classes, but so far he’s afraid to try punching. He really likes Ada. When she convinces him to make a recording of his singing opera, she plays it for their teacher who really wants Bart to sing at the school talent show, but Bart is afraid to sing in front of anyone. Ada, who can’t keep a secret, finds out where Bart lives and goes to visit him. No one at school knows that Bart lives in a slum and that his mom weighs over 300 pounds, until Ada tells her best friend and she tells everyone else. Now Bart has something to fight about.
This kid is so optimistic, you can’t help but root for him. He organizes the people in his apartment building to clean it up, he befriends an addict, he is resilient in spite of everything he’s going through. It reads a little young for middle school, but the themes (alcoholism, drug use, poverty etc.) are more mature. Not sure where this fits best. I liked the book, but it would need to be individually recommended. Know your patrons.
EL, MS - OPTIONAL Lisa Librarian