Excerpt from The Graduation of Jake Moon by Barbara Park, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Graduation of Jake Moon

by Barbara Park

The Graduation of Jake Moon by Barbara Park X
The Graduation of Jake Moon by Barbara Park
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Aug 2000, 128 pages
    Paperback:
    Jun 2002, 128 pages

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

Chapter 1: The Twist

There are these three eighth-grade boys. They've just gotten out of school for the day. And they're about to take off in different directions, when they notice something going on in the trash Dumpster at the other end of the parking lot.

They're still pretty far away from it, but they can see an old man sitting on the edge of the thing. His back is facing them, and he's just sort of balancing himself there. Staring down into the bottom of the Dumpster.

The boys watch him for a second. And then one of them starts grinning. And he cups his hands around his mouth and shouts out, "Hey! Don't jump, Pops! You've got everything to live for!"

Then one of the other boys yells, "Yeah! Plus I heard the food is much better at the Dumpster up the street!"

So after that, both kids totally crack up. And it becomes this contest, sort of, to see who can holler out the funniest insults at the old guy.

Like the first kid asks the old man if he went to P.U. University. And then the second kid asks if he has any Grey Poupon.

But the third kid, see, he's just standing there not saying a word. Instead, his eyes are glued to the old guy, almost. Like he's waiting for a reaction.

Only that's the thing. Because there is no reaction. Not at first, anyway. At first, the old man never even turns around. So the boys begin to think that maybe the guy's deaf or something. Which totally takes the fun out of shouting insults.

But then -- out of the blue -- something seems to click in the old man's brain. I mean, even from the back you can see his head sort of perk up. It's like he gets it now, you know? He suddenly understands that all this yelling has been directed at him.

And so he lowers himself down into the trash bin. And then he turns around to see who's been talking to him.

And that's pretty much that. The fun is over. Because even from the other end of the parking lot, it's obvious to the boys that there's something really wrong with the old guy. That he's just not right in the head. Instead of acting mad or angry or even insulted, his face actually brightens. And he waves as friendly as anything, and shouts, "Hullo, fellas!"

And it's so pathetic, I can't even tell you.

The two boys shut up after that. I mean, they chuckle a little bit and all. But you can tell they're not exactly busting with pride over making fun of a retarded old man.

But see, the third kid -- the one who kept quiet -- he doesn't have anything to be ashamed about at all. Because like I said, he didn't do anything.

So if you happened to be passing by and you saw this whole thing going on, you'd probably think that the third kid was the good kid. That he was the one with a conscience or some sense of decency or something.

Only that's the weird thing about this story.

That's the twist, I guess you'd call it.

On account of the third kid turned out to be the most shameful of all.

Because the third kid was me.

And the old man in the Dumpster was my grandfather.

  • 1

Copyright © 2000 by Barbara Park

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Art of the Wasted Day
    The Art of the Wasted Day
    by Patricia Hampl
    Patricia Hampl wants you to know that daydreaming is not a waste of a day. Nor is spending time ...
  • Book Jacket: Circe
    Circe
    by Madeline Miller
    Towards the end of Madeline Miller's novel Circe, the titular nymph is questioned by her son ...
  • Book Jacket: All the Names They Used for God
    All the Names They Used for God
    by Anjali Sachdeva
    Pre-publication press has already compared Anjali Sachdeva to Kelly Link and other genre-blending ...
  • Book Jacket: Look Alive Out There
    Look Alive Out There
    by Sloane Crosley
    After a brief (and thoroughly enjoyable) foray into fiction (with her 2015 novel The Clasp), Sloane ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
Music of the Ghosts by Vaddey Ratner

A love story for things lost and restored, a lyrical hymn to the power of forgiveness.

About the book
Join the discussion!

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Other People's Houses
    by Abbi Waxman

    A hilarious and poignant novel about four families and the affair that changes everything.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win The Leavers

The Leavers by Lisa Ko

One of the most anticipated books of 2017--now in paperback!

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

T E H N Clothes

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.