Zen and the Art of Faking It by Jordan Sonnenblick

When eighth-grader San Lee moves to a new town and a new school for the umpteenth time, he doesn’t try to make new friends or be a loner or play cool. Instead he sits back and devises a plan to be totally different. When he accidentally answers too many questions in World History on Zen (only because he just had Ancient Religions two schools ago) all heads turn and San has his answer: he’s a Zen Master. And just when he thinks everyone (including the cute girl he can’t stop thinking about) is on to him, everyone believes him . . . in a major Zen way.

Description taken from Goodreads.

“People are always telling kids to be themselves, but either they didn’t mean it or they didn’t tell you how to go about doing it when everyone was trying to push and pull you into line.”

This book is just like all of Jordan Sonnenblick’s other books. Heartfelt, realistic and hilarious. Just like a lot of his other works, Sonnenblick manages a lot of different factors that would normally drag a kid’s book down–heavy topics and light topics, everything from divorce to homework to first love.

Sonnenblick really gets into the mind of a middle-schooler here, which I love and think will really late to 6th and 7th grade boys, but San is no ordinary middle-schooler. He’s quirky and corny and funny, being a perfect Sonnenblick protagonist. I could see a little Mary Sue-esque personality coming through here, but it didn’t bother me that much. I loved the way that San led us through the plot line here. I cared for him as a character and I also liked a lot of the other supporting characters here.

As for plot line, I did think that it wasn’t Sonnenblick’s best. It was a good story, and I had fun with it, and I loved the morals and lessons here, but I also think that Sonnenblick is capable of much more. There were also a few dry parts that slowed down the pacing.

Overall, I liked ZEN AND THE ART OF FAKING IT a lot. Other than a few rough parts in the plot and a few instances where San and his friends made unfortunate or annoying choices, this book is another win read from Jordan Sonnenblick. 3.5 stars.

pg count for the hardback: 264


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