This book has gotten nothing but praise as far as I can tell. If you check the author's blog you can find all sorts of glowing reviews. It's a lovable book, especially if you love books.
Fans of rock and roll should read this book. Parents of school children should read this book. People old enough to read books should probably read it, though I've already informed Big Brother that it isn't appropriate for him yet. He is only 7.5 and ability to read doesn't mean I want him knowing about some of this stuff. Of course I've also pondered whether Douglas Adams would be appropriate for our nightly bedtime reading. I might do that one soon.
Tom has plenty of problems, though most of what he has to deal with are arguably other people's problems being transferred to him through the variety of shitty things that kids in do in a school environment.
As a homeschool parent, I have to admit that this book opened up as a manual on why not to send your children to school. As a homeschool parent, and as a person who is becoming more and more antischool, it was difficult at first to separate my feelings from the book. I find that I grow ever more opinionated when it comes to schooling. But the book is good enough so that I soon forgot all that as I sank deeper into the pages.
Tom has a number of adventures as we read through the book. He is confronted with a number of mysteries that allow us to see the inner working of his mind. It's fun to remember back that far, being 15 and both so sure and so unsure of everything at once. I can't say that the mystery is entirely solved in the end. I wonder still what the truth of it all was, having finished the book only to realize that for the most part, we still don't know what happens. But it's Tom's story, and his mysteries. So if he's happy, we can only be happy for him.
Anyone unfamiliar with Dr. Frank should rush to their nearest record store and pick up a few of his band's albums. The Mr. T Experience is basically Dr. Frank and a rotating pile of other musicians, or so it appears to me. The constant in the band, aside from Dr. Frank would be his amazing lyrics, his ability to pile words into each other to say things in the most fabulous way.
In case you don't believe me, I've lifted an example of his lyrics from the song With My Looks and Your Brains, from the album Revenge Is Sweet And So Are You. I think I've actually thought the same thing about me and Momma but giving her credit for both the looks and brains.
I wonder if under pressure we could make it on our own.
Could we stand it, empty handed and stranded and all alone?
But let's not find out what that would be about.
I'll stick with you.
You let yourself be stuck too.
You and me have a legacy that we can pass on to our kids.
They could get lucky.
With my brains, your looks, your knights, my rooks,
they could really win a lot of games.
But just think, what if they end up with my looks and your brains?
So do yourself a favor. Go to the record store in your town, the small one that only exists in your town. Ignore all the little signs that say Pop/Rock and Country and Heavy Metal. Look really hard for the sign that say Handed Down From On High and look under M for Mr. T Experience. Buy any of the albums or go ahead and get them all. Go next to the bookstore and pick up King Dork by Frank Portman. Then go home and be prepared to fall in love all over again while you immerse yourself in the words of Frank.
Oh, and here is the trailer for the book.