24 May 2013

Review: The Fourth Stall

The Fourth Stall by Chris Rylander
Publication date: February 8, 2011
Publisher: Walden Pond Press
Do you need something? Mac can get it for you. It's what he does—he and his best friend and business manager, Vince. Their methods might sometimes run afoul of the law, or at least the school code of conduct, but if you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can pay him, Mac is on your side. His office is located in the East Wing boys' bathroom, fourth stall from the high window. And business is booming.

Or at least it was, until one particular Monday. It starts with a third grader in need of protection. And before this ordeal is over, it's going to involve a legendary high school crime boss named Staples, an intramural gambling ring, a graffiti ninja, the nine most dangerous bullies in school, and the first Chicago Cubs World Series game in almost seventy years. And that's just the beginning. Mac and Vince soon realize that the trouble with solving everyone else's problems is that there's no one left to solve yours.

THE FOURTH STALL: a noir for middle graders! It's definitely different from other books I've read, and I didn't think it was a needed genre until I finished it. More noir for the young'uns please!

Mac's office resides in the fourth stall in the East Wing boys' bathroom. He isn't there to do his business, but to do business. Mac sits in his office and hears the problems of his fellow classmates. If it's a problem he can solve, and he can solve any problem, he'll take it on. For a fee, of course.

There's a lot of great humor in the book and a lot of times I couldn't help laughing. Especially at the descriptions and escapades of Mac's team of bullies. The first time they're all introduced is quite brilliant really, and it's a part that stayed with me after I flipped the last page. I love the fact that there are really no good guys in the book. Even Mac, who always tries to do things for good, can screw up at times. And the nemesis? Truly and mysteriously evil throughout. But, this leads me to my next thought:

The book is violent, yes, but I particularly found the gang of high school upperclassmen who seem to have no qualms about going after elementary and middle schoolers to be quite unnerving. It's hard to read middle-grade books as an adult sometimes (one rule seems to be that parents can't exist). I'd be curious to get feedback from someone whose in the age group it's intended for to see how they felt (haven't met one who has read it yet). But then, maybe I'm just being ignorant and teens are beating up younger kids nowadays! It has been a while since I've been to middle school. Apparently, we are not keeping these children and teens busy enough. More homework, I say! More chores! More ballet recitals! And if they're not in ballet, then make them go to one!

Overall, will I be picking up the second one in the series? For sure.

1 comment :

  1. i really enjoyed this book. i don't know if this much mafic type stuff actually happens in schools these days but i enjoyed the depiction of it and the depiction of the friendships, which i think were pretty accurate.


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