Friendship is a common theme in children’s literature, and why wouldn’t it be, since it is a huge part of what kids are experiencing in their lives. And I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that most friend-drama books are about girls (mirrors real life, eh?). Boys have friend troubles too though, and I just finished a wonderfully funny and poignant book on the topic.
33 Minutes (…Until Morgan Sturtz kicks my butt) is about two boys who used to be best buds in elementary school, Sam and Morgan. They were different even then, but those differences were fine and made things interesting. Sam has always been crazy smart (and now in seventh grade, he heads up the ArithmeTitans math team), and Morgan has always been athletic (he is now the star of the middle school football team). If asked, Sam might say that he and Morgan hadn’t been as close since middle school started, and since a new kid, who has more in common with Morgan than with Sam, moved in to their neighborhood. BUT, Sam knows they are still friends because it’s only been a couple of months since their TAMADE (The Absolutely Most Amazing Day Ever)—where they played their favorite old video game for nine hours straight, and worked together as a team like never before. And this is why he is so confused about why Morgan so very clearly wants to kick his butt now.
The story flips back and forth between past and present, so the thirty-three minutes of same-day suspense are stretched out over snippets of what has led Sam and Morgan to this point. The reader can see Sam clinging to hope beyond unreasonable hope that there is some magical way that his friendship with Morgan can go back to what it used to be.
I won’t reveal any more about the plot except to say that this book does not have a neat and tidy, “wrapped up with a bow” kind of ending. It has a very real and poignant ending, which will be appreciated by anyone who is old enough to have grown apart from a former special friend. As adults we intellectually know that these transitions are a part of life, but as a kid, sometimes there is nothing more painful than losing a friend you weren’t ready to move on from.
This story is smart and funny and sad and hopeful all at the same time. It will work for upper elementary or middle school boys who are mature enough to understand Sam’s somewhat complicated emotions around his friendship with Morgan, as well as the bit of complexity added by the plot flipping back and forth, and the author’s sly sense of humor. All told? Two thumbs up from this StorySnoop