Book Reviewed by Lisa Brown-Gilbert
Author Mike Hatch delivers originality and spunk with his The Dumb Class: Boomer Junior High; a retrospective coming of age story that unflinchingly provides readers with a gritty, humorous, and boldly creative romp through life with a group of Junior High school friends. Purchase here.
Taking place in the 1960s, the story follows “baby Boomer” friends Bill Jones, Eddie, Jeff, and Harley through their formative years in Boomer Junior High school. Events are detailed by Bill Jones who is also the story’s protagonist. As a whole, the teens are a cast of tenacious, drinking, smoking, sexing and scheming set of youth whose friendships and wit carry them through many escapades and life experiences. Jones, in particular, makes for a captivating character to follow. He has wit and a peculiar charm and albeit. Although in the lowest of the class designations in the junior high school, “the dumb class” he seems to be one of the smartest and conniving.
Instantly intriguing from its outset the story draws your attention along with piquing the interest with an opening scene of a crudely humorous debate about the female anatomy, being held by the group of friends, which serves to bring the diverse main players into focus and sets the tone for the story as one replete with humor, raw depictions of life and teen behavior. As the story progresses, it follows their adventures, experiences, and explorations fueled by raunchy desires, cursing, teen angst, drugs, alcohol as well as other diversions like revenge. As characters, their unique personalities and interactions drive the story forward, while heralding authenticity via infused bits of historical and cultural references.
Overall, I found that The Dumb Class: Boomer Junior High offers not only an entertaining read but a multifaceted look at the cultural and sociological avenues of life that teenagers of the 1960’s encountered and explored. As a matter of fact, I personally found the story to be a somewhat reminiscent combination of Stand By Me, Grease and Porkies. Just a word of warning, this is an adult-themed read as the level of sexuality in this book is quite graphic especially for fourteen and fifteen-year-olds. However overall, I enjoyed the read and kudos to author Mike Hatch, who did well in portraying his tale. He artfully brought this memorable coming of age story to life with humor, well-fleshed characters and era-appropriate vernacular. I do recommend this book for mature readers who enjoy dark themed humor.