Will Sam’s best friend turn out to be a bully? He’s about to find out in this “strong and refreshingly straightforward portrait of identity and shifting-friendship trials” (School Library Journal).
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.
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
From the Publisher
"33 Minutes is clever and true." —Amy Ignatow, author of The Popularity Papers
"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."
Todd Hasak-Lowy has published several books for adults. 33 Minutes was his first book for young readers and he made his YA debut with Me Being Me Is Exactly as Insane as You Being You. 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.