Middle school student Jamie is an aspiring comic.
Referring to the fact that he requires a wheelchair, Jamie challenges readers: “So, can you deal with this? Some people can. Some can’t.” Frequently quoting his favorite comedians, Jamie reflects on life, using his forthright observations to hone his own comedic skills. Jamie relies on his quick wit and sometimes-audacious jokes to deflect inquiries about his circumstances. Recently adopted by his aunt, Jamie’s new family includes Stevie, a bully whose callous cruelties often take advantage of Jamie’s physical condition. Seeking refuge at his Uncle Frankie’s diner, Jamie regales the customers with his humor. Uncle Frankie’s suggestion that Jamie enter a local comedy competition tests Jamie’s determination to become a comedian. Patterson and Grabenstein balance Jamie’s humor with a poignant storyline. Through Jamie’s evolving relationship with the intriguing Suzie, aka Cool Girl, readers learn about his devastating loss and recovery from a tragic event. Park’s humorous spot illustrations complement the text.
The affecting ending, which reveals a more vulnerable Jamie behind the guise of his humor, celebrates Jamie's resilient spirit.(Fiction. 10-13)