Stoner & Spaz

Common Sense Media says

Edgy, sardonic book is OK for mature readers.

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Educational value

The book can be a great vehicle for discussions on drug abuse with your teen, especially as one character openly questions why drugs are
illegal.

Positive messages

Coming-of-age themes as both characters grow through their relationship. Ben may not ultimately win Colleen (or keep her clean), but he certainly matures and is able to see himself in a new light.

Positive role models

Stoner and Spaz may not always behave perfectly, but Colleen makes Ben begin to see how he's been wasting his life holding
himself aloof from everyone out of self-pity. And Ben helps Colleen
begin to make her way out of her haze of drugs, at least temporarily. Through their friendship, they become more complex than their derogatory monikers.

Violence

A fight, not described.

Sex

References to masturbation, oral sex, molestation, homosexuality. A sex scene, not graphic.

Language

Teen dialogue containing four-letter words, plus references to "darkies."

Consumerism

Product and store names used.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

A main character uses tobacco, marijuana, and cocaine, tries to go straight, but falls back into using. Some approving comments about drugs, and wondering why marijuana is illegal.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that one main character in this book uses drugs and wonders why they're illegal. In the end she goes back to using drugs. There is some gritty language as well as references to masturbation, oral sex, molestation, homosexuality, and a (not graphic) sex scene. But teen readers will likely take something else away:  Through a unique friendship, Colleen makes Ben begin to see how he's been wasting his life holding
himself aloof from everyone out of self-pity. And Ben helps Colleen
begin to make her way out of her haze of drugs, at least temporarily.  They become more complex than their
derogatory monikers -- and Ben in particular matures and is able to see himself in a new light.

Parents say

Kids say

Not yet rated
Review this title!

What's the story?

Ben, a teen with cerebral palsy and an obsession with movies, has been properly brought up by his prim, overprotective, but caring grandmother. Colleen, his classmate, is a drug addict and dealer who sleeps around. Together they are ''Stoner & Spaz'' When at their first meeting Colleen vomits down the side of Ben's grandmother's car, their unlikely friendship doesn't seem destined to last. But each treats the other as a real human being, something neither has experienced before. And, since Colleen's jock boyfriend isn't threatened by Ben and is even, in his own fatheaded way, kind to him, they begin spending a lot of time together, despite Grandmother's disapproval. Colleen makes Ben begin to see how he's been wasting his life holding himself aloof from everyone out of self-pity. And Ben helps Colleen begin to make her way out of her haze of drugs, at least temporarily.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Ben tells the story, and his sardonic view of teen life, and of himself, is mostly amusing and clever, and the part of his humor that is self-pitying is knocked flat by Colleen's wicked directness. Though it's Ben's voice and story, the book is really about Colleen, a charming, if disgusting, junkie who's too smart to be behaving this stupidly.

Poet and novelist Ron Koertge's forte is tight, witty dialogue, and he uses it to great effect here. Conversations between Ben and Colleen, his grandmother, his neighbor, and his classmates sparkle with sharp patter reminiscent of '40s movies. This brief, fast-moving, funny story, with doses of sex, swearing, and drugs, will keep even reluctant teen readers turning the pages.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the book's title. Why do you think the author chose Stoner and Spaz rather than Colleen and Ben? Is it just to grab attention -- or does it work on another level? You're not supposed to judge a book by its cover -- or title -- but do you?

  • Parents who want to delve more deeply into the plot can talk about drug use, and how it defines every aspect of Colleen's life. Do you think she'll ever stay clean? What would you have done if you were in Ben's shoes?

Book details

Author:Ron Koertge
Genre:Contemporary Fiction
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Candlewick Press
Publication date:April 24, 2004
Number of pages:169
Publisher's recommended age(s):14

This review of Stoner & Spaz was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

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Adult Written bylibrarypatrons April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age
QUALITY
 
Teen, 15 years old Written byChristian Stargell January 19, 2009
AGE
14
QUALITY
 

How do you say..."Best Seller"?

This book was so amazing, if you cant tell already its a favorite. A must read for all teens and a good conversation starter. I loved every word of it and every nano-second i had free was filled with this book. The endingds kinda sad, and i can only wish for a sequal, but over all major Kudos and props to Ron Koertge.
Adult Written byablackford April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age
QUALITY
 

Definitely something anyone who has gone through rehab can relate to...

I loved this book. I myself have gone through rehab six times and fallen back into old habits. But thanks to friends, much like Colleen's in the book, I have been pretty straight for six months now. This is an awe-inspiring book and I recommend it to anyone.

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