Turtle Boy (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews

Seventh grade is not going well for Will Levine. He's bullied at school for a facial problem that might require surgery and Will hates hospitals, his nature refuge behind school is in danger of being developed, he's just not sure about his friends, and he's studying for his upcoming Bar Mitzvah. As if it couldn't get worse, the Rabbi wants Will to do his community service hours at the hospital, visiting RJ, an older boy with an incurable disease. Though wary at first, things change when RJ shares his bucket list. As Will completes each item on the list, he learns that life is too short to live in a shell.  I truly love these characters; Wolkenstein tackles grief and the many ways it manifests itself with humor and heart. I laughed and teared up in equal measure--this is perfect for fans of Rebecca Stead and R.J. Palacio.

— From Lauren


A boy who has spent his life living inside a shell discovers the importance of taking chance in this "winner" (Booklist, starred review) of a friendship story that's perfect for fans of Wonder.

Seventh grade is not going well for Will Levine. Kids at school bully him because of his funny-looking chin. And for his bar mitzvah community service project, he's forced to go to the hospital to visit RJ, an older boy struggling with an incurable disease.

At first, the boys don't get along, but then RJ shares his bucket list with Will. Among the things he wants to do: ride a roller coaster; go to a school dance; swim in the ocean. To Will, happiness is hanging out in his room, alone, preferably with the turtles he collects. But as RJ's disease worsens, Will realizes he needs to tackle the bucket list on his new friend's behalf before it's too late. It seems like an impossible mission, way outside Will's comfort zone. But as he completes each task with RJ's guidance, Will learns that life is too short to live in a shell.

"Everyone deserves a friend like Will Levine." --Lynne Kelly, author of Song for a Whale

About the Author

M. EVAN WOLKENSTEIN is a high school teacher and writer. He attended the University of Wisconsin in Madison, the Pardes Institute for Jewish Studies, and Hebrew University. His work can be found in Tablet magazine and the Washington Post, and on BimBam.com. He lives with his wife and daughter in the San Francisco Bay Area. Turtle Boy is his debut novel.

Praise For…

"Turtle Boy is a marvelous coming-of-age story . . . about bravery and the redemptive power of friendship. A perfect summer read." —Kveller

"Turtle Boy—both boy and book—is a winner." —Booklist, starred review

“A story about what it means to be brave when all you want to do is hide in your shell." —Lynne Kelly, author of Song for a Whale

"A wholesome blend of humor and grief, Will’s story will appeal to younger and older readers alike. A beautiful debut that wears its heart on its sleeve." —The Nerd Daily

"A strong debut novel about grief, loss, and coming out of one's shell." —School Library Journal

"A satisfying arc, from sadness to dawning hope and strength." —Kirkus Reviews

"A masterful mingling of deeply resonant themes, including self-esteem, loneliness, loss, and the rewards of improbable friendships." —Publishers Weekly




Product Details
ISBN: 9780593121573
ISBN-10: 0593121570
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: May 5th, 2020
Pages: 400
Language: English