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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
An imagined view of high school.
Be true to yourself. Don't tell people what you think they want to hear. Support your friends and family. Show the people in your life you care about them.
Positive Role Models
An old friend of Higgs' brother is kind and helpful and gives Higgs advice.
Violence & Scariness
Man holds knife to teen girl's neck. Teen gets beaten and injured by two huge adults, but it's not described graphically.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
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"S--t," "f--k" and its variations, "a--hole," "d--k," "dumbass," "damn," "goddamn," "hell," "Christ," "bitch," "douche," "balls," Jesus," "pissed." Lots of name-calling.
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Products & Purchases
Titanic, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, Coke, CNN, NoDoz, Dr Pepper, McDonald's, Volvo, BMW, Coleman, Howard Johnson's, ESPN, Nerf, Doritos, Airstream, Spam, WWE, Dolby.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Drunk teens at school dance. Adult is shown to drink more frequently to cope with problems. Teen takes pills to stay awake to study. Teen smokes cigarettes.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Kidney Hypothetical: Or How to Ruin Your Life in Seven Days is about a high school senior, Higgs Boson Bing, and how one seemingly minor question upends his life. Higgs' four years of high school have been a series of academic, extracurricular, and social achievements, culminating in his acceptance to Harvard and vying for the honor of Senior of the Year. But rather than ending his high school years in a blaze of glory, he faces a series of events that make his last week of high school a living hell. Characters drink, smoke cigarettes, and engage in minor kissing. Frequent instances of rudeness, bullying, and name-calling. Swearing is not frequent but includes "f--k" and its variations, "s--t," "a--hole," and "bitch."
Is It Any Good?
The book has a decent premise: that achieving for the sake of achieving and putting aside your own dreams to make other people happy aren't the best approaches to life.Unfortunately, the event that sets Higgs Boson Bing's horrible week in motion is ridiculous. Although it becomes clear that Higgs is not as perfect as he tries to appear, the level of hatred, cruelty, and retribution aimed at him is weird and out of proportion. Most of the characters are annoying, and much of the dialogue involves yelling and name-calling, especially in the first part of the book. The numerous insults hurled at Higgs are supposed to be humorous, but the humor falls flat. The school's reaction to overt bullying is unbelievable and awful.
The character of Monarch is a take on the Manic Pixie Dream Girl cliché, but her character is welcome in that she challenges Higgs to truly examine his goals and motives. The book is better when the reader gets to know Higgs and see the struggles that led him to become a driven, high achiever. More of that level of insight into the pressures facing many teens would have be welcome. Otherwise, there are too many awful characters in this book to make it a completely enjoyable read.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.