The Amazing Adventures of John Smith Jr., aka Houdini by Peter Johnson

The Amazing Adventures of John Smith Jr, aka Houdini
by Peter Johnson

John Smith Jr, known to his friends as Houdini because of his love of magic, is a 13-year-old boy growing up in a rough neighborhood outside of Providence, Rhode Island.  Growing up is painful- especially when you have a cantankerous Vietnam Vet as a neighbor, a bully who won’t let you be, and a brother missing in Iraq.  Inspired by an author visiting his school, John decides to write his first novel.  He views his world, one cracked and flawed block at a time.  And as he describes his world, he slowly lays out a plan on how he, and hopefully his friends, can make the great escape-  just like his hero, Houdini.


This book will be an inspiration to any middle grade reader who is feeling the growing pains in the worst way.  It gripped me from the first sentence to the closing sentence.  It is, without a doubt, the most authentic child's voice I have read since Catcher in the Rye.  A lot of adults try to sound like children in their writing- Peter Johnson succeeds.  Don't be put off by the cover- it looks very young.  But this book is definitely not intended for young readers.  I would say 12-13 year-olds would be the ideal audience.
 
--Katherine from Books Inc. Laurel Village