I am a fan of Louis Sachar’s, Holes, and begrudgingly admit that it is one of the few cases where I liked the movie almost as much as the book. Ok, full disclosure, I own the movie and the book. What’s important here is that I read the book first, because that’s the rule in our house.
So you can understand why I pounced when NetGalley offered up Fuzzy Mud, and why I was able to suspend disbelief in certain parts that may have had a skeptic quitting, but then again, I am a grownup reading middle grade fiction, so that’s not really fair. If you’re in sixth grade and you’re already skeptical, the plot issues of Fuzzy Mud are not your worst problem. I thought the book was well written, with plenty of character building, mystery, drama, and tension for a relatively short book. Sachar has an economy of language that keeps the story moving.
However, there is something about it that is just not as memorable as Holes, and, not having read his many other books, I cannot tell you if that was just an exceptional book, or if this story was not as good as his usual work. There is a lot to commend in this book, and I do think it’s great for a certain boy or girl looking for an offbeat story. This has a science theme as well as more typical schoolyard issues, with bullying evident in a number of relationships. Tamaya and Marshall, the book’s protagonists, show a surprisingly fierce and unexpected courage, and I love how their relationship has changed over the many years they have lived in the same neighborhood. Sachar does offer some surprises along the way, and, despite all inclinations to the contrary, even the bully earns a little compassion in the end. It may not be the best book he’s written, but it’s far better than so many others that I would recommend a read.