Title: Bucking the Sarge
Author: Christopher Paul Curtis
Publication Info: New York: Wendy Lamb Books, 2004
Age Groups: 13+
Topics: high school, friendship, responsibility, fraud, parent/child relations
Summary: “Deeply involved in his cold and manipulative mother’s shady business dealings in Flint, Michigan, fourteen-year-old Luther keeps a sense of humor while running the Happy Neighbor Group Home for Men, all the while dreaming of going to college and becoming a philosopher.” Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Booktalk: So. You’re 13. Your mama tells you to put on your suit and tie, that you’re going to get a driver’s license so you can drive the Group Home Bus, which, by the way, you know cost more than $80,000. You’d been driving it for a couple of months already and were getting pretty good at it. Cool right? Luther though so too—at first. But there has to be a catch, right? What about having to be 18 to get a license legally? Why go to the office at 8 p.m., when the office is usually closed by then? Would you be a bit uncomfortable if your mama insisted that all you needed was a new birth certificate to confirm your new age? Luther was uncomfortable, and his mama, (whom Luther refers to as “Sarge”, tells him the “first shoe of Sargeism”:
“If it makes you more comfortable why don’t you look at it like t his, do you have any idea what a difficult period of time the ages of fourteen through seventeen are for most boys? Consider yourself lucky, you’ll be zipping right from thirteen years old to eighteen years old, you will officially miss the majority of the turmoil of adolescence and the incumbent nastiness that it inevitably brings.” (Pg. 66)
A 13-year old boy’s dream or the beginning of a nightmare? If getting an illegal license is “the first shoe of Sargeism,” what is the second one and does it drop? What happens to Luther? To find out, read Christopher Paul Curtis’ Bucking the Sarge.
Notes: If anyone was asking for another good book to read after reading and liking this one, I would recommend Curtis’ Bud, Not Buddy. Curtis can really perform magic in his character development. Once I started reading this one, I didn’t want to put it down. Dialect/slang might be a bit hard for some readers.
There are a lot of great booktalks ready for the reading right out of the book, such as the listing of the contents of Luther’s wallet and meet “Chauncey” (Pg. 3). There are also some great quotes in there, such as Luther talking about his not needing to dis living in Flint, saying:
“It’s because of the way my mind is trained [philosophical] that I don’t join everybody else coming down on Flint so tough. Flint ain’t nothing but a place or a sate of mind, and I think a place or a state of mind is all about what you make it to be. (Pg. 9)