Summary and book reviews of Bucking The Sarge by Christopher Paul Curtis

Bucking The Sarge

by Christopher Paul Curtis

Bucking The Sarge by Christopher Paul Curtis
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  • First Published:
    Sep 2004, 272 pages
    Paperback:
    May 2006, 144 pages

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Book Summary

Featuring characters so lively they seem to jump off the page, this vibrant modern-day battle between greed and morality proves that there is more than one way to come out on top. Ages 10-up.

Luther T. Farrell has got to get out of Flint, Michigan.

As his best friend Sparky says, "Flint's nothing but the Titanic."

And his mother, a.k.a. the Sarge, says, "Take my advice and stay off the sucker path."

The Sarge milked the system to build an empire of slum housing and group homes. Luther's just one of the many people trapped in the Sarge's Evil Empire—but he's about to bust out.

If Luther wins the science fair this year, he'll be on track for college and a future as America's best-known and best-loved philosopher. All he's got to do is beat his arch rival Shayla Patrick, the beautiful daughter of Flint's finest undertaker—and the love of Luther's life.

Sparky's escape plans involve a pit bull named Poofy and the world's scariest rat. Oh, and Luther. Add to the mix Chester X., Luther's mysterious roommate; Dontay Gaddy, a lawyer whose phone number is 1-800-SUE'M ALL; and Darnell Dixon, the Sarge's go-to guy who knows how to break all the rules.

Bucking the Sarge is a story that only Christopher Paul Curtis could tell. Once again the Newbery Award–winning author of Bud, Not Buddy and The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963 gives us a whole new angle on life and a world full of unforgettable and hilarious characters. Readers will root for Luther and Sparky every step of the way.

"Just a minute, fellas. Hello?"

"Luther?" It was Sparky. He sounded like he'd just run five miles. "Have you looked outside, bruh?" I could hear the wind howling behind him.

"Yeah, where you at?"

"I'm on the phone outside Seven-Eleven. It's like a hurricane out here!"

"Then why don't you get inside? Are you coming over?" The 7-Eleven was only a couple of blocks away.

Sparky said, "Uh-uh. I need you to meet me behind Taco Bell."

"You need what?"

"Seriously! This is my big chance, baby! Before this night is over I'm going to be calling 1-800-SUE-EM-ALL. I finally got someone to sic the big D.O.G. on." He started barking into the phone.

Sparky, what are you talking about?"

"I'ma put me a suit in on Taco Bell!"

"Oh, you're gonna do that old I-found-a-rat-in-my-burrito trick?"

Sparky said, "Please, they peeped out that scam a long time ago, they even do autopsies on the rat if you claim that happened. I got ...

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Reviews

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Kirkus Reviews

Told in Luther's jivey, colloquial voice, enriched by Curtis's cast of large-hearted survivors, and enlivened by his coruscating style, this is another winner-or, as Luther might say, a "three-peat." (Fiction. 10-16)

School Library Journal - Johanna Lewis

Grade 8 Up–The Sarge herself is so convincingly sharp-tongued, shrewd, and despicable that she's the novel's juiciest character. The plot unfolds slowly at first, and teens may lose patience with Luther's tendency to feel sorry for himself. However, once his confidence begins to build, the story keeps a quickening pace with his character arc. His final revenge on the Sarge is so deftly constructed and the novel's resolution so satisfying that it makes up for the occasional lag in the lead-up. Any teen who's ever wanted to stick it to the man (or woman) will love this story.

Publishers Weekly

Featuring characters so lively they seem to jump off the page and a gratifying resolution in which all characters get their comeuppance, this vibrant modern-day battle between greed and morality proves that there is more than one way to come out on top. Ages 10-up.

Booklist - Hazel Rochman

Starred Review. Gr. 5-9. The narrator is smart, desperate 15-year-old Luther (not Loser, as some call him) Farrell, who speaks with wit, wisdom, and heartbreaking realism about family, work, school, friends, and enemies....His schemes of revenge and escape are barely credible, but the farce and the failure tell the truth in this gripping story.

Reader Reviews

rekeya

bucking the sarge
It's a really good book that makes you want to read all his books. I mean I did and they were good!

Mawi

I want to read every book by this author - he has a unique and hilarious voice and finds a way to make every character memorable.

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Beyond the Book

Christopher Paul Curtis was born and brought up in Flint, and worked on the assembly line in the city for 13 years until his first book, The Watsons Go To Birmingham-1963, was published when he was 40 years old.  He took a year off from work to write to write it sitting in the children's room of the Windsor Public Library writing in long hand. His son Steven typed his father's drafts into their computer and served as first reader.

His second novel, Bud, Not Buddy, was the first book ever to receive both the Newbery Medal and the Coretta Scott King Author Award.

He describes himself as a great reader but as a youth could not find books "that were about me".  When asked why he writes he says, "I write ...

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