Death By Toi­let Paper

Don­na Gephart
  • Review
By – January 29, 2016

Ben­jamin Epstein is a slo­gan-swing­ing sev­enth grad­er with a bunch of grown-up prob­lems. But he will not give up hope. All he needs to do is come up with a grand-prize-wor­thy slo­gan, and all those prob­lems will be solved. 

Ever since Benjamin’s dad passed away, Ben and his mom have fol­lowed Dad’s grand plan. Mom needs to study and pass her CPA exam so she can stop wait­ress­ing. Ben needs to do well in school and stay out of trou­ble. But when mon­ey runs short, an evic­tion notice gets plas­tered to their door and Zayde Jake moves in. Ben needs to earn some mon­ey and fast! He has to write a slo­gan that will win a grand prize — per­haps from the Royal‑T Bath­room Tis­sue Company. 

Read­ers will enjoy the fun facts about toi­let paper almost as much as the let­ters between Ben and Ed Chase, the Com­mu­ni­ty Rela­tions Rep­re­sen­ta­tive of Royal‑T Bath­room Tis­sue. But this is more than a book about toi­let paper triv­ia. Death By Toi­let Paper is about the pow­er of opti­mism, fam­i­ly, and friend­ship. It’s about hope and imag­i­na­tion — and for­give­ness, too. The rela­tion­ship between Ben and Zayde Jake, who is begin­ning to lose his mem­o­ry, will stay with read­ers. Although the bul­ly sub­plot and Jew­ish con­tent (lim­it­ed to menu options and schmaltzy Yid­dish dia­logue) feel a bit clichéd, read­ers will love the sat­is­fy­ing con­clu­sion of this kind and humor­ous tale. There’s a lot more than toi­let paper jokes in this nov­el. It’s got heart. 

High­ly rec­om­mend­ed for read­ers 10 and up.

Sarah Aron­son holds an MFA in Writ­ing for Chil­dren and Young Adults from Ver­mont Col­lege. She is a full time writer and has recent­ly pub­lished her first nov­el, Head Case (Roar­ing Brook) for young adults. Sara blogs every Thurs­day for the Lilith blog.

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