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Children's LiteratureAt his lawyer's urging, Nick writes the story of his accidental killing of his friend, Alice, which occurred while his father was trying to wrestle the gun from him. Nick is well aware of his disabilities, despite the best efforts of his sister Hope and teacher Mrs. Brown. His alcoholic father, a despicable character the reader later discovers drove his mother to commit suicide, reinforces Nick's poor self-concept by constantly badgering him and calling him "Thick." The book's essential elements—an identified special education teen, a dysfunctional family, an alcoholic and abusive parent, a classmate bully, a young woman who faults her own behavior for encouraging her boyfriend's physical abuse, and a mother who commits suicide—make this a gripping story. Although these components may seem unlikely to coalesce in one person's life, they do blend together to create a realistic, short, and fast-paced story that will grab students from page one (which ends "Real blood with a real blood smell. I did not know blood would smell."). With a low Fry reading level of 4th grade, this book is guaranteed to be popular with teens. Teachers can use it as a read-aloud or for whole class instruction, especially with students who have reading and learning difficulties. Teachers and librarians are cautioned to read it themselves before using or recommending it, as content may be too sensitive for some young people to handle. With this caveat, Thick is highly recommended. 2006, Brown Barn Books, Ages 12 up.
—Mary Bowman-Kruhm, Ph.D.