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4.4 12
by David Lubar

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Chad finds a whole new summer occupation—he wants to be the Bozo, the clown who sits inside the dunk tank and goads people into taking a shot. What could be better than using his razor-sharp wit against a random stranger? But Chad soon discovers he’s entered a strange and twisted world where humor packs a loaded punch.


Chad finds a whole new summer occupation—he wants to be the Bozo, the clown who sits inside the dunk tank and goads people into taking a shot. What could be better than using his razor-sharp wit against a random stranger? But Chad soon discovers he’s entered a strange and twisted world where humor packs a loaded punch.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
From the moment that soon-to-be-11th-grader Chad hears the boardwalk clown hurling insults, the teen adds the job to his list of goals. In what PW called "an engrossing novel, Lubar ably charts a watershed summer between boyhood and manhood." Ages 13-up. (June) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Summer at the shore sounds idyllic, but 15-year-old Chad is unhappy. He lives near the beach in New Jersey year-round with his hard-working waitress mother; she is divorced from his long-gone father. The memory of his father's shiftlessness makes Chad angry; he's not too pleased with the world in general, in fact, and wishes his mother would let him take a real job. But when he watches the performance of the new Bozo at the dunk tank, expertly heckling victims on the boardwalk, Chad acquires a new ambition in life; instead of being "a loser," "I wanted to shout and scream at the world from the safety of a cage. I wanted to be the Bozo." This new Bozo turns out to be Chad's mother's new tenant, Malcolm, a professor of theater with a sad past. Chad and Malcolm edge with difficulty into a relationship that eventually becomes almost father-son, as Malcolm instructs Chad in the fine art of becoming a Bozo. But there is more to Chad's summer than just becoming a Bozo; he gets into some trouble with the police; his best friend is diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder, and Chad finds that laughter can heal as well as sting; and he finally works up the courage to ask a girl out, and to convince his mother to let him take a job. Lubar, author of the fantasy Hidden Talents, tells an engaging story, with believable and interesting characters and witty dialogue. He portrays the world of the boardwalk with affection and a keen eye for detail. Readers will be pleased when Chad's troubled summer ends happily, with increased self-confidence and finally, a hard-won and triumphant turn at being a Bozo. Category: Hardcover Fiction. KLIATT Codes: JS—Recommended for junior and senior high school students.2002, Houghton Mifflin, Clarion, 256p.,
— Paula Rohrlick; KLIATT
School Library Journal
Gr 7-10-As Chad finishes his sophomore year of high school, he looks ahead to a summer on the Jersey shore boardwalks. Although his over-worked, hard-pressed mother insists she doesn't want him to take a job, Chad is drawn to the dunk tank and the Bozo-a clown whose job is to hook his "marks" with bitter but funny taunts until enough money has been spent to result in a dunking. The Bozo turns out to be hiding from a tragic past, yet ready to try teaching his acting talents to others. Chad quickly finds he needs the skills to evoke laughter as he fights his way out of a depression by trying to save his best friend, dangerously ill with an autoimmune disease. A summer romance, run-ins with the local police, and Chad's worries that he will turn out like his deadbeat absent father provide more problems for Chad to deal with. This full-cast production of the book by David Lubar (Clarion, 2002), complete with carnival music, is very well produced and gives listeners many great voices to listen to, chief among them Matt Golden. He keeps the story moving, and the voiced repartee of the Bozo is another highlight of this audio version. The audio enhances the atmosphere of life along a boardwalk. In the CD version, each disk includes a contents listing matching book chapters to CD tracks, very helpful for those who like to listen and follow along in the book or to facilitate picking up the story at a later time. This captivating story deserves a place in all teen collections. Lubar, who is interviewed by Bruce Coville at the end of the story, showcases a narrow and little-seen slice of life that will fascinate while allowing exploration of the kind of issues confronting teenagers everywhere.-Jane P. Fenn, Corning-Painted Post West High School, NY Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Lubar's (Hidden Talents, 1999, etc.) latest is somewhat weaker than the sum of its parts. The characters are strong, the setting is interesting enough, but somehow the plot just does not ring true. Chad lives on the Jersey shore, an odd place to live, especially in the off season. Chad and his single mother try to scrape together enough money to pay the mortgage, she by working and renting their second floor to boarders, Chad by scamming side jobs on the boardwalk. When Malcolm, a college professor with a unique summer job, becomes their new tenant, Chad's summer is irrevocably changed. Malcolm works as a "Bozo" at the dunk tank, the smart-mouthed jokester who jeers passers-by into spending their money to dunk him. Chad is so taken by Malcolm's ability to come up with the perfect wisecrack every time that he vows to study him and become a Bozo himself. Added to this unlikely career choice is Chad's struggle to work up the courage to talk to his dream girl, the collapse of his best friend due to a rare autoimmune disease, and Malcolm's slow revelations about his past that led him to this vocation. Chad is an appealing enough teen, nice to his mother, hangs out with his friends, worries about his social life, yet somehow is just not likable enough. Lubar seems to throw in a lot of filler-Chad's friend's disease, his struggles to talk to a girl he likes-which doesn't necessarily add to the story. One substantial plot device involves Malcolm introducing Chad to classics in humor (the Marx brothers, Charlie Chaplin) and discussing how laughter and humor can be healing. Chad uses this idea to help his friend feel better as they await news of his disease, but these parts are few and far between.Not a bad effort, just not quite there. Will appeal to junior-high boys who aren't looking for a challenging read. (Fiction. 12-14)
From the Publisher

"A solid novel about the anger and agression that often fuels humor--and the compassion that can enhance it." Horn Book

4Q/4P "Dunk confirms Lubar's growing stature as an author of distinctive, intriguing, and highly original young adult fiction." VOYA (Voice of Youth Advocates)

Lubar ably charts a watershed summer between boyhood and manhood, just one of the attractions of [his] engrossing novel." Publishers Weekly

"Lubar tells an engaging story with believable and interesting characters and witty dialogue. . . . Readers will be pleased." KLIATT

"Chad is the prototype of the hard-luck teen. The Bozo, too, is classic…With painful truth, Lubar create[s] complex characters." Booklist, ALA

"...genuinely original. Readers will relish [that] blend of hope and cynicism that gives [the boardwalk] its rich and gamey flavor." The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

"well-realized characters in a solid novel about the anger that often fuels humor - and the compassion that enhances it." The HORN BOOK GUIDE, pointer review Horn Book Guide, Pointer

Product Details

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 7.00(h) x 0.74(d)
520L (what's this?)
Age Range:
13 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1 His voice ripped the air like a chain saw. The harsh cry sliced straight through my guts the first time I heard it. The sound cut deep, but the words cut deeper. He shredded any fool who wandered near the cage. He drove people wild. He drove them crazy. Best of all, he drove them to blow wads of cash for a chance to plunge his sorry butt into a tank of slimy water.
This was just about the coolest thing I’d ever seen. Which made it that much more amazing, since I lived in one of the coolest places on the planet and I’d seen some of the freakiest things man or nature had ever created.
I was on my way down the boardwalk to get a slice of pizza at Salvatore’s. Today was the start of the tourist season. The crowds were thin because the ocean water was still chilly. That wouldn’t last. In a few weeks the place would be mobbed. It would stay that way until the end of summer— wall-to-wall tourists frantically packing as much activity as possible into their vacation at the Jersey shore. I hoped someone special would also return. But if I thought about her too much right now, I knew I’d go crazy.

Meet the Author

David Lubar grew up in New Jersey and now lives next door in Pennsylvania. Armed with a degree in philosophy from Rutgers University and no marketable job skills, he spent several years as a starving writer before accidentally discovering that he knew how to program computers. He is now a full-time writer and the author of eleven books for teens and young readers, including Dunk (Clarion Books), Flip (Tor), and Wizards of the Game (Philomel). David Lubar lives with his wife; they have one highly intelligent daughter and three idiosyncratic cats.

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Dunk 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
france4lyfe More than 1 year ago
Dunk by David Lubar I chose this book because it had a little bit of a mystery and it was hysterical. I thought this book was going to be about the sea and how they get and how they get and put all the scuba gear on. The book is not nearly what I expected. I feel this book is way better then what I  thought. My feelings by making me feel really surprised. Chad has just gotten a new job. Chad his mom,  Boss, Jason (stepbrother). Are the main characters,  Chad’s mother has always told him to get a job, then finally he goes behind her back and gets one of the worst most painful jobs, out on the jersey shore. This book is fictional and a little bit of fantasy. I liked this book because, it had many surprises, and mysteries. You should read this book because it has humor in it. I feel this like this book is for ages 12 and up. On a scale of 1-5 i’d rate it a 3.  
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
pucketth More than 1 year ago
Dunk is the story of chad's summer at the Jersey shore. Chad is very frustrated that his summer is not going as he planned, but then he found his dream job, Bozo the dunk tank clown. As Chad trains with Bozo, he realizes that this might not be what he wants to do. What i found intriguing about this book is the setting and the description. This book made me want to be at the Jersey shore learning how to be a dunk tank clown. Also, I think this is a good topic, it was different than the average teen story about stupid teen drama and relationships, or the average sports book. I have recommended this book to many of my friends and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a good story that is willing to let the story develop.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Dunk, By David Lubar, deserves a 4 star rating. I rated this book 4 star instead of 5 because it is a great book but it is not as good as some of his other books. Like all of my other favorite books by David Lubar this one is about a teenage kid trying to get through life, or in this case a summer vacation. In this Book Chad Turner is looking for a summer job and finds a few bumps along the road. When all of his friends had jobs his mom still wanted him to be her little baby and wouldn¿t let him get a job. He was stuck doing errands for the workers on the boardwalk when he really wanted to be the 'bozo' in the dunk tank. Whenever he walked past the tank he imagined himself targeting the people and lures them into buying their tricks. The current bozo, Malcolm, who isn't very fond of Chad, moves in above Chad and his mom's house in the top floor. For a long while they Chad and Malcolm are enemies but after a while they start to become closer. This book is a page turner you will not want to put down and I recommend it for a quick read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
By looking at the title, many would assume that Dunk, by David Lubar, is a book about basketball. I know that is what I thought at first. However, once you begin reading you realize that the main character in the book, a boy named Chad, aspires to be the Bozo in a dunk tank along the Atlantic City boardwalk. Unfortunately, he has many obstacles standing in his way. For example, his mother babies him by not allowing him to see what it is like to be independent and have a job. Some of these obstacles make the plot very interesting along the way. Throughout the novel, you will notice that there is a lot going on, which can lead to excitement and drama among the characters. With school ending, Chad and his friends are ready to get summer started. As a student myself, this is something to which I can relate. It is interesting that anytime one of them mentions school, they have to pay the other a dollar. That is a great way to keep everyone¿s mind focused on summer vacation. The author does not waste anytime bringing the readers into the action. After learning a quick history about Chad, his family and his friends, Chad is already exploring the pier and thinking about the summer ahead of him. Early on, he runs into some trouble with the police this happens on multiple occasions throughout the novel. Everything does not always go according to plan. This is a common theme in the novel, and it is something that almost everybody has experienced. For example, Chad¿s friend Jason usually plays volleyball all summer and is getting ready for a big tournament. However, he becomes ill and has to spend many days in the hospital. Furthermore, one day Chad is walking along the pier and the police wrongly blame him for stealing from a local store. Being in the wrong place at the wrong time is a very easy way to get into big trouble, even though you have not done anything wrong. There is another instance where Chad finally finds enough courage to ask this girl out, until he finds out that one of his enemies already has a date with her. Having the ability to relate fictional stories to the real world can make a novel more enjoyable, and that is one reason that I could not put Dunk down. Being able to overcome obstacles is a key to success. In order for Chad to attain his goal, he faces different attitude problems. Also, not having enough determination and confidence is another reason he may not achieve his ultimate goal of being the Bozo. By the end of the story, the readers will notice how he has grown and become more appreciative for what he has. In order to find out if he actually becomes the Bozo, you will have to read the book for yourself.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Dunk was one of the best books ever!!!!!!!!! This was an incredible page turner.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Ah, it is summer again, a time and place when the best things can happen to you. No school, no teachers and best of all, a time to do what you want. The best? Not for quiet, witty, and friendly Chad. His life seems like it is deep under water in David Lubar¿s Dunk. Do not be fooled by the name or the blurb of the story because once you get into Dunk, It will feel as if the book was almost super glued to the hands your reading with. Chad¿s sarcasm and plain old wit will make you laugh so hard you will start to have pains in your sides. Most humorous books do not have much of a true message. This book has a much better message than other thoughtful tales. Chad¿s life is all washed up in the story when Malcolm, the man who has the job he wants, moves into his house. One of Chad¿s closest and only friends, Jason, has a terrible disease that is killing him. To top it off the love of his life, Gwen, who he finally had the guts to ask out is dating a drug dealer. Dunk is an emotional roller coaster you do not want to miss. Dunk¿s sense of what life is about is what makes this book so incredible. It really tells the reader know how life is definitely not a walk in the park. There are similar qualities between Dunk and Be more chill. Both books explore the real thoughts of a teen and how the things that happen can get the best of us. If you thought Be more chill was amazing, then you will be drenched with on going thoughts while enjoying Dunk. Dunk¿s message is, no matter how cruddy or bad your life is, appreciate the things you have, and remember only you can change it. It¿s really all in your own hands. With laughs, love and a meaning of life, Dunk will flood you with loving thoughts.
Guest More than 1 year ago
David Lubar is an Amazing author and he took it too a higher sense giving readers a chance to have deep connections with his character, to say noting of the relatability, and mulitidimentional characters! I almost cried, it's the sweetest book ever, and a must read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really think that Lubar captured the real essence of the average teenager e.g the worrying about the average teen, summer jobs etc. The storyline can be a little tedious and bland at times but overall the story moves on at a very well pace. When i picked up this book, i didnt put it down until i was done. Lubar really made me want to know what was going to happen next. He even pays respect to famous comedians and books. If you enjoy books that are funny and true to life, get this book NOW!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Filled with humor as well as heartache, this gripping novel is full of hope, love, determination, and triumph. I definately recommend this book to everyone---especially high school and middle-schoolers. DO NOT BE FOOLED BY THE BLURB OF THIS STORY---READ THE BOOK!!!!IT'S A LOT BETTER THAN IT SOUNDS!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Too many authors for teens suffer from 'humor imbalance disorder' -- they write either deadly-serious sagas, or shallow-yet-amusing fluff pieces. David Lubar really understands that life, particularly teen life, is bittersweet. _Dunk_ authentically captures both the humor and the sorrow of one young man's passage into adulthood, in a way that will have teens cheering, and adults getting misty-eyed over their own lost youth. A great read for all ages.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is still with me two days after finishing it! It's an ideal title for any high school students, but would be particularly meaningful for students in alternative high-schools, as the topic and the writing are mature and thoughtful, but the vocabulary is not daunting. Bravo!