Mr. Terupt’s fans will be happy to see their favorite characters return with a bucket list of epic projects. A satisfying culmination of a middle school chronicle.” –Kirkus Reviews
Jeffrey, Alexia, Anna, Danielle, Luke, Peter, and Jessica are thrilled to have their beloved teacher, Mr. Terupt, back for the school year as their biweekly adviser. They still rely on him for guidance on so many things, including these dilemmas:
JEFFREY wants to make varsity wrestling, but at what cost? Worried that she may have the same cancer gene as her mom, ALEXIA takes a DNA test--only she's scared to open the results. Neglected by her soon-to-be-married mom, and wounded by Jeffrey's callous brush-off, ANNA keeps her hurt feelings bottled up--until she can't. DANIELLE has ups and downs with her diabetes, but her budding romance with Luke proves to be the real challenge. LUKE's tackling lots of difficult schoolwork, none of it harder than letting Danielle know he likes her. Anxious about her dad's return, JESSICA pours her heart into writing poetry. Angry at what he thinks is a betrayal, PETER gives Mr. Terupt the silent treatment.
To celebrate their remaining time with Mr. Terupt, the students hatch bucket-list type projects to make the school year important, memorable, and way bigger than just the group. Will the gang stick together down to the final project? Will their friendships endure after the difficult goodbye?
Eighth graders Peter, Jessica, Danielle, Anna, Jeffrey, Luke, and Alexia celebrate their final year with Mr. Terupt, who is still in their lives as their adviser.
The fourth book in the series follows 2015’s Saving Mr. Terupt. Mr. Terupt’s fans will be happy to see their favorite characters return with a bucket list of epic projects. Health issues—diabetes and cancer—become the focus of two successful projects; Luke researches the cows on Danielle’s farm; Jeffrey tries to make wrestling weight by starving himself; family relationships grow and change, and so do their own. There’s even a chaste kiss. All of them, but especially brokenhearted Peter, struggle to adjust to the idea of a future without Mr. Terupt’s support. Buyea follows the narrative pattern of his previous books, chronicling the school year month by month in short chapters with alternating first-person narratives that reflect the speakers’ personalities. Readers new to these works will get a good idea of the major issues and events of fifth, sixth, and seventh grades through each speaker’s memories, and all will be left with yet another set of lessons about the importance of forgiveness. These Vermonters are probably all White.
A satisfying culmination of a middle school chronicle. (Fiction. 9-13)
Read an Excerpt
When it came to the gang, we were in the business of making memories. Whether pulling killer pranks or attempting unbelievable stunts--my specialty--or tackling over-the-top projects together, we had a way of doing things that people would talk about for a long time. The kind of stuff that inspired. And this year was no different. This year we needed memories that would last us a lifetime--because after saying goodbye, that’s all you have left to hold on to.
I kicked things off for us at the Summer Sound Festival, which was this huge weekend party held outdoors on the Long Island Sound. There were tons of food trucks and vendors, live music and entertainment, and people. It was the place to be. All of our parents went, but we ditched them and met up with each other as soon as we got there.
For all the hype, the festival really wasn’t anything that great. The music lineup was just a bunch of local nobodies, and the vendor stuff was even lamer, but Lexie dragged us through tent after tent because no way could she miss out on any shopping.
“Do we really need to walk through all this?” I complained.
“Don’t be a sourpuss,” Jessica replied. “Look at it this way: maybe you can find some pretty jewelry to buy for Lexie.”
“Yeah, that’s the attitude,” Lexie said, batting her eyelashes at me.
She loved me now, but before long she’d be ready to kill me. That was our relationship--hot and cold.
It was borderline torture, but I tagged along like her lost puppy (her real foo-foo ankle-biter, Margo, was at home because of a strict festival policy--no dogs allowed). I got why Danielle liked the artist booths with the paintings and drawings, and why Anna liked the photography stuff. What killed me was the way Luke was all into the vendors displaying their inventions. He was fascinated by their creativity. Even Jeffrey seemed interested. Maybe not at the booths selling handmade doll clothes or quilts, but he was down with the metal and woodworking stuff. He got excited when he found a small toy wooden train that he was able to buy for his little brother, Asher. I got excited when I found a concession stand in the back of the fourth tent. I was starving, but Lexie wasn’t about to stop shopping, so I grabbed a super chili dog for the road. They piled the cheese and onions on top of that thing. The bigger the mess, the tastier the food. I stuffed it in my mouth and chomped down.
“Mmm,” I moaned. Mustard spurted out the back end and landed on my shirt.
“Ugh, Peter. Are you serious? I can’t take you anywhere,” Lexie said, groaning.
“It’s just mustard,” I said. I swiped the blob off my shirt with my finger and stuck it in her mouth.
Lexie made an awful face and jerked away. “You’re disgusting!” she screeched. “I hate you!” She hauled off and punched me in the chest.
“Yeah, but you love me,” I teased, and laughed.
Lexie huffed and stomped off, but she didn’t really hate me. Consider this a warm-up, because she was nowhere near as mad as she would get. The mustard-finger trick was a good one, but my best idea was yet to come. I stuffed the rest of the dog in my mouth and followed her.
After what felt like an eternity, Lexie finally found something she liked: a toe ring with a sea-glass jewel. It was cool and, surprisingly, it wasn’t the most expensive thing there. But she wouldn’t let me buy it because she was still playing mad.
“You’re being stubborn,” I said.
“I don’t care,” she snapped.
I tried, but whatever. When she finished paying, I took the lead and found the nearest exit. It was a beautiful day, and the last thing I wanted was to spend every minute of it under cover. Enough was enough.
The one cool thing about the festival was all the outdoor games the organizers had put out for people to use. There were volleyball nets, bocce ball sets, and Can Jam courts spread out along the beach. Most everything was being used, but I spotted a free Spikeball kit.
“C’mon, let’s try it,” I urged.
We kicked our shoes and socks into a pile and ran over to play. Basically, Spikeball is what the name implies. Players stand, surrounding a small circular trampoline-style net, and take turns spiking a rubber ball onto it. If you miss on your turn, the other team scores. There might be some other rules involved, but that’s how we did it. We played guys against girls. That might sound unfair, but there were four of them and only three of us, and Luke was definitely the worst, so it was actually pretty even. It was fun, but after a while I had to make it more exciting. I wound up and whaled the ball into the air instead of onto the net.
“Peter!” everyone cried.
The ball sailed into the Sound. Anna was the first to run after it, and then Jeffrey took off, determined to beat her. Next thing I knew, we were all racing across the sand. We had shorts and T-shirts on, but no one was wearing a swimsuit. Didn’t matter. I sent Lukester swimming. His arms and legs flailed every which way after I shoved him. Poor kid didn’t stand a chance. He belly-flopped into the waves, and the best part was that his crash-landing splashed water all over Lexie too.
“Peter!” she screeched. She kicked and slapped at the water, trying to get me wet, but she wasn’t even close. I laughed at her, but then Jessica soaked me with a sneak attack from the side. It was game on.
We must’ve looked like we were straight out of one of those ridiculous Disney Channel summer beach movies. The bunch of us goofing around, jumping and splashing and having fun in the water. It was great--until Lexie started screaming. And I mean screaming.
“Lexie, are you okay?” Jessica asked.
She didn’t respond. Or couldn’t.
“Lexie,” Anna tried.
“Lexie,” Danielle repeated.
“Lexie, tell me what’s wrong,” I demanded, hoping my forceful tone would get her to talk.
But she just continued screaming. When I saw the way she was hobbling out of the water, I figured she had stepped on a sharp shell and had cut her foot, or maybe she’d been bitten by a crab. Both of those things can hurt--not as much as her carrying-on would indicate, but this was Lexie we were talking about. She’d scream if a butterfly landed on her. I was kind of hoping for some blood, because with a little blood in the water we could get lucky and maybe attract a shark, which would’ve been totally awesome--but she wasn’t bleeding. All this drama-queen stuff and no blood. Classic Lexie. I was ready to tell her to suck it up and stop being a baby, but then she plopped down in the sand, clutching her leg. She was crying for real.
“It’s a jellyfish sting,” Luke said, pointing to the red welt that wrapped around her calf and shin.
“I don’t wanna die,” Lexie whined.
“You’re not going to die,” Luke assured her. “Lie back and try to relax.”
The girls kneeled by her side, doing whatever they could to comfort her.
“Try not to rub or itch it. That’ll only make it worse,” Luke told her.
“Ow,” she whimpered.
“I didn’t see any jellyfish,” I said.
“Doesn’t matter,” Luke replied. “One straggling tentacle is all it takes, but by the looks of her leg, I’d say she got more than that.”
“Ow,” Lexie continued moaning. “Ow. Make it stop!”
“What can we do?” Anna asked.
“Vinegar,” Luke answered. “Vinegar will help ease the sting. I bet one of the food trucks will have some. I’ll be right back.”
Great, I thought. While Mr. Science Guy goes running off searching for vinegar, poor Lexie has to stay here, suffering.
“Ow,” she whined. “It hurts so bad.”
“Shhh,” the girls whispered. “Close your eyes. Try to relax.”
“That’s it. Stand back,” I ordered. “I can’t remember if I read it somewhere or saw it on TV, but peeing on a jellyfish sting is supposed to be the best thing for it. Let me have a go.”
“You can’t be serious,” Jessica replied.
“Try it and you’re a dead man,” Lexie snarled.
“Just trust me,” I assured her.
“Trust me!” she exclaimed. “Try it and I’ll gouge your eyes out.”
“It’ll only take a little pee and then you’ll be all better,” I promised.
“A little pee and you won’t live to see tomorrow,” she promised, sitting up and glaring at me.
Lexie was seething mad, but you know what, she wasn’t whining about her leg anymore. Given the chance, I think whizzing on her would’ve worked wonders, but the art of distraction did the trick until Lukester came running with a bottle of vinegar. He crouched down and poured it on Lexie’s leg and her pain subsided.
I know Luke thinks he was the one who saved the day, but I was the real hero. I didn’t slay any dragons, but I was the knight in shining armor who helped his damsel in distress when she was hurting the most. It would’ve made for an awesome story if I had actually peed on her, but we still had a whole year in front of us. This was only the beginning.
Luke rushed over with the vinegar and gently poured it on Lexie’s leg. Within minutes her pain eased and she began to calm down. Whether her recovery was psychological or actual, no one could be sure, but we didn’t care because all that mattered was Lexie was done dying. “Thanks, Luke,” she said, and smiled.
Understandably, Luke was proud. So proud that he felt the need to explain why the vinegar had worked. He wasn’t bragging; he was just excited about the science. He was just being Luke.
“A jellyfish sting results in tiny barbs being left in the area of contact,” he began. “It’s important not to rub or itch the irritation because that can cause the barbs to release more venom and even get lodged into the skin, making it worse. The best approach is vinegar, or if that isn’t readily available, you can try dousing the area with ocean water, but not freshwater and definitely not urine, which is a common misconception.”
Luke continued explaining, but we were done listening. He should’ve stopped at the vinegar, because he’d just added insult to injury. Lexie’s smile vanished and was replaced by a fierce death stare that she shot at Peter. In fact, she looked ready to kill him. Lexie and Peter had one of those on again–off again relationships, but honestly, I didn’t know if they’d ever make it back to on again after this fiasco. I often wondered the same thing about Mom and Dad. Would Mom try again with Dad? Only time would tell--just as it would for Peter and Lexie.
“It’s all a matter of osmosis,” Luke continued.
“Oh, shut up,” Peter growled. “You don’t know everything.” He kicked sand at Luke and stormed away.
Poor Luke didn’t know what to make of Peter’s sudden outburst. He was lost. “But I do know,” he told us.
“Don’t worry about him,” Jeffrey said, leaving it at that. There was too much to explain.
I helped Danielle and Anna get Lexie to her feet. We did our best to brush the sand off her back, but that wasn’t the main issue: she also had sand in her hair. We made Lexie take her pony out and tip her head down and shake, which turned out to be largely ineffective. She needed a shower, that’s all there was to it, but we still assured her she looked fine. It didn’t matter that we were stretching the truth because the real problem was in the fact that “fine” would never cut it for Lexie. She was miserable.
“I swear, I’m going to get even with him,” she promised us, glaring at Peter in the distance. “And this time I’m not going to play nice.”
Honestly, those two were made for each other. I glanced at Danielle and Anna and shrugged. Here we go again, I thought. Danielle better start praying for Peter now.
After Lexie put her hair back in a pony, we went to retrieve our shoes. We found Peter and walked around aimlessly. That jellyfish hadn’t only stung Lexie; it had sucked the life out of our party. It seemed like our fun was finished, but then we spotted something that made us smile again--Mr. and Mrs. Terupt, and little baby Hope.
“We wondered if we’d see any of you here,” Mrs. Terupt said.
“Are you enjoying the festival?” Mr. Terupt asked.
“Yes! It’s been great,” Luke exclaimed. “Well, except for--”
“We’ve had a grand time,” I interjected. We didn’t need to tell Mr. Terupt everything. Unbeknownst to us, that sentiment went both ways. “Hi, Hope,” I whispered, bending lower and peeking inside her stroller. Lexie and Danielle and Anna crowded around to see her too.
“Where are you headed?” Jeffrey asked Mr. Terupt.
“We’re taking Hope to see the puppet show they’re having on center stage.”
“Oh, I forgot about that. My parents mentioned taking Asher to that. It’s supposed to be good.”
“That’s what we’ve heard,” Mrs. Terupt agreed.
“Mr. T, I hate to burst your bubble, but isn’t Hope a bit young to appreciate any of that?” Peter asked.
“Babies are sponges, Peter. Hope might not be ready to take in everything, but she’ll soak up some of it.”
“Mr. T first began reading to Hope when she was still in my belly,” Mrs. Terupt said.
Peter went bug-eyes. “Sheesh.”
“Hope likes poetry,” Mr. Terupt said. “The rhythm, the play on words, the beauty and magic of it.”
The language of love, I thought, and smiled. I enjoyed novels in verse, but I was most interested in the poems my father continued sending to my mother. Did poetry also contain healing powers?
“I prefer nonfiction,” Luke stated. “Maybe Hope would like to hear something about dinosaurs or snakes?”
“Snakes?” Peter scoffed. “For a baby girl? You definitely don’t know everything.”
“And neither do you,” Lexie jabbed.
“What was the first thing you read to Hope?” Anna asked, wisely continuing the conversation before Peter and Lexie needed boxing gloves.
“A book called The Penderwicks,” Mr. Terupt answered. “It’s the story of four sisters. It reminds Sara of her childhood.”
“Mrs. Teach, you have sisters?” Lexie asked. “I didn’t know that.”
“Yes, you did. We met them at their wedding,” I reminded her.
“I have three,” Mrs. Terupt replied. “They all live back home where we grew up.”