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33 Minutes

33 Minutes

4.4 5
by Todd Hasak-Lowy, Bethany Barton (Illustrator)

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This school-based boy friendship story is “funny, fast-paced, and quite poignant” (R. J. Palacio, author of Wonder).

Sam Lewis is going to get his butt kicked in exactly thirty-three minutes. He knows this because yesterday his former best friend Morgan Sturtz told him, to his face and with three witnesses nearby, “I am totally


This school-based boy friendship story is “funny, fast-paced, and quite poignant” (R. J. Palacio, author of Wonder).

Sam Lewis is going to get his butt kicked in exactly thirty-three minutes. He knows this because yesterday his former best friend Morgan Sturtz told him, to his face and with three witnesses nearby, “I am totally going to kick your butt tomorrow at recess.”

All that’s standing between Sam and this unfortunate butt-kicking is the last few minutes of social studies and his lunch period. But how did Sam and Morgan end up here? How did this happen just a few months after TAMADE (The Absolutely Most Amazing Day Ever), when they became the greatest Alien Wars video game team in the history of great Alien Wars teams? And once the clock ticks down, will Morgan actually act on his threat?

Told with equal parts laugh-out-loud humor and achingly real emotional truth, 33 Minutes shows how even the best of friendships can change forever.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Adult author Hasak-Lowy (Captives) makes his middle-grade debut with an entertaining story about the shifting nature of friendship. Sam and Morgan used to be best friends, but a new kid named Chris has driven them apart, with Morgan joining the football team and becoming one of the most popular seventh graders. As the novel opens, the titular countdown to the moment when Morgan is scheduled to beat up Sam has begun, and Sam’s flashbacks to the events surrounding their friendship’s dissolution intermix with that last half hour of safety at school. The supporting cast is only lightly developed, and Chris comes across as a one-dimensional villain, rather than the more complex character that his background suggests (readers learn, for instance, that his parents are seldom around). Nonetheless, Hasak-Lowy gives Sam an amusingly discursive narrative voice (on getting his “butt kicked”: “f you knew someone was going to kick you some place, would you not hope for that place to be your butt?”) through which he dissects the middle school experience and his loss of a friend. Final art not seen by PW. Ages 8–12. Agent: Daniel Lazar, Writers House. (Jan.)
From the Publisher
"33 Minutes is clever and true." --Amy Ignatow, author of The Popularity Papers
Evan Kuhlman
"33 Minutes is a rollicking and heartfelt adventure as math whiz Sam Lewis tries to avoid being pummeled by his ex best friend. Come for the fun. Stay for the Tater Tots."
Kirkus Reviews
Brainy seventh-grader Sam Lewis actually takes 1 hour and 35 minutes to let go of the idea that he and former best bud Morgan Sturtz can still be friends. First, there's the agonizing wait for the fight Morgan has promised at recess. Sam has done something quite stupid, though readers don't learn exactly what that is until well into his narrative. Chapters headed by the time of day describe a tedious social studies class, an epic cafeteria food fight ending with a salad-bowl blow to Sam's head, a fire drill that turns out to be real and, finally, a solid right to Sam's chin. Though the details are specific—and funny—the sad situation is not unusual. In middle school, Morgan has shot up physically and found his place on the football team; Sam, still short and skinny, stars at math. Six elementary school years together and an amazing day of shared video game mastery is not enough to sustain their friendship. New neighbor Chris Tripadero fans the flames. This realistic picture of early teen life includes at least one aware teacher who counsels patience and advises Sam that he won't be there forever. Readers will probably appreciate the message. Occasional hand-lettered black-and-white sketches add to the appeal of this satisfying school story. (Fiction. 10-13)
Children's Literature - Heidi Hauser Green
Sam Lewis and Morgan Sturtz used to be best friends. Through elementary and into middle school, the boys were so tight that Sam’s mom even took to calling them “SamMor.” Sam’s dad created a music theme song for them. It sounds corny, but it is the stuff of best-friendship, which is what the boys used to have. That was before Chris moved into the neighborhood and maneuvered his way into friendship with Morgan, while pushing Sam out. Perhaps the boys were heading in different directions anyway, Morgan embracing his role as school super-jock and Sam enjoying his reputation as a super-mathlete. The break in their friendship may have been inevitable. But here it comes in the worst way, with lies, rough feelings, name-calling, a dropped bowling ball, a food fight, a thrown salad bowl, a science lab fire, and a beat-down on the playground. What do you do when the best friend you love rejects you, and promises a bitter fight? As first-person narrator, Sam Lewis is incisive, funny, and ultimately quite candid about the inner workings of middle school. (Not to be missed: “Sam’s” prioritized list of desirable projectiles in a food fight scenario.) Adolescent readers are likely to find this refreshing; younger children should probably be steered away from it, lest they enter middle school in a state of fear. Reviewer: Heidi Hauser Green; Ages 8 to 12.
School Library Journal
Gr 5–8—Sam Lewis has been Morgan Sturtz's best friend all through elementary school. Despite Morgan's rise to popularity because of his football ability and Sam's small stature and securely cemented position as school nerd and math genius, he'd assumed their friendship would last forever. Enter new kid Chris Tripadero and an incident involving a note Sam scribbled in anger that remains unexplained for the majority of the book, and all of sudden Sam finds himself waiting in both fear and sadness for his former best friend to seek him out and kick his butt. At times mundane, as when readers wade through a slow-moving social-studies class, but with its fair share of high-stakes action, the novel does an excellent job of traversing the wilds of middle school drama. Sam triumphs in finding a friendship and love interest in fellow geek Amy Takahara, and his security in his own intelligence and worth is reassuring, but the heart of the story is the very real failure of his friendship with Morgan to survive the changes that come with adolescence. Occasional cartoon illustrations add some humor to the story, but seem unnecessary in what is already a strong and refreshingly straightforward portrait of identity and shifting-friendship trials.—Joanna Sondheim, Columbia Grammar & Preparatory School, New York City

Product Details

Publication date:
MAX Series
Product dimensions:
5.60(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.00(d)
970L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

Todd Hasak-Lowy has published several books for adults, and 33 Minutes is his first book for young readers. He lives with his wife and two daughters in Evanston, Illinois.

bethany bARTon is an author and illustrator whose debut picture book, This Monster Needs a Haircut, was published in July 2012. She sat at the theater geeks table in middle school.

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33 Minutes 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I wish matt were on
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
U can have him i have a boy friend
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Matts trying to get a gf at a diffrent rp