Sequel to last year’s Twerp, Finding the Worm explores the 1960s New York area world of protagonist Julian Twerski even more deeply as he continues to mature. His bar mitzvah is finally approaching and Julian, with the help of his somewhat cryptic rabbi, struggles with some existential questions, thrown into even higher relief as one of his closest friends has a brain tumor and Julian must confront, for the first time, immediate issues of life and death. This Julian does with great seriousness even as he navigates the daily life a twelve-year-old boy. Meanwhile school goes on with its sometimes unfair accusations and its daily tribulations and so do interactions with family members and with friends, both male and female, which can be both rewarding and confusing. This coming-of-age story rings true with poignancy and just the right mix of emotion and humor; it is never cloying or overly dramatic although there’s plenty of drama. Well-drawn characters and a touch of old-time New York mix with universal values and will resonate with readers of today.
Highly recommended for readers ages 9 – 13.
Michal Hoschander Malen is the editor of Jewish Book Council’s young adult and children’s book reviews. A former librarian, she has lectured on topics relating to literacy, run book clubs, and loves to read aloud to her grandchildren.