In some anonymous high school somewhere in Chicago a while back, high school students were roaming the hallways and classrooms blissfully unaware that in 2002, one of their own would be inspired to write some horribly accurate look at the high school experience. Joseph Weisberg wrote his first short story, “The Mid Life Crisis Exploits,” at the age of twelve (twelve?).

10th Grade, specifically is about the experiences of Jeremiah Reskin, navigating the sometimes overwhelming world of group back rubs, schoolwork, and girls at his high school in Hutch Falls, New Jersey. Instead of trying to devote great meaning to the plot, Weisberg writes it in a meandering uneventful way, like a real high schooler's novel would be written. There is no central conflict, no historic events. You won’t find this book full of suicide attempts, genius protagonists, or anything else common to teen literature lately. Jeremy is just a normal, rather well-adjusted sophomore.

Joseph Weisberg manages to write for 259 straight pages without missing a beat. Sentences run on for miles, grammatical errors are rampant, and complete lapses in punctuation for pages- exactly what you would expect from a sophomore in high school. If you like your books to be perfectly set, no mistakes and misspellings, then maybe you had better look somewhere else. But if you would rather try to make some sense of a dead-on look at American culture, then go right ahead and read this.

Joseph Weisberg: 10TH GRADE; New York: Random House.
Book review by David Kamp in the New York Times on February 3, 2002

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