Wednesday, May 20, 2009

SLOB by Ellen Potter

SLOB by Ellen Potter
Copyright 2009
Philomel Books - Middle readers/YA (ages 9-12)
197 pages

This is becoming a far too typical refrain at Bookfoolery & Babble, but okay . . . sigh . . . I've misplaced my copy of SLOB, so I can't quote from the book and don't have the text to refer to. The good news is that even though I read SLOB several weeks ago, it is certainly a memorable tale.

SLOB is the story of a brilliant, overweight boy named Owen. Owen is fat, but he hasn't always been that way. He has, however, always had a high IQ which he's learned not to brag about. Owen invents things from found objects and he has a very unusual reason for trying to create an invention that will help him view the past -- a specific date in the past.

Being smart and fat is a rough combination. Owen is regularly bullied at school, not only by the other kids in his 7th-grade class, but also by a vicious gym teacher who deliberately humiliates Owen, apparently for his own entertainment. Owen is trying to lose weight, but one of his small joys in life is the three Oreo cookies he gets in his lunch, each day. When his cookies begin to disappear and the container appears untouched, Owen has his suspicions about the most likely culprit. But, then other clues begin to surface after he creates an invention to stop the thief; and, the answer to the Oreo thefts may be even worse than he imagined.

Owen's sister, Jeremy (also known as Caitlin), is a member of a group of girls who have decided to give themselves boy names --Girls Who Are Boys, or GWABs -- and dress up like boys. When I spoke to the author, she said that SLOB is a bit of a departure for her because it's autobiographical in many ways. Ellen Potter once belonged to a group of Girls Who Are Boys and she knew a very brilliant boy much like Owen. Interesting.

As the story unfolds, the reader slowly becomes aware of the terrifying incident Owen and Jeremy lived through and which now shapes their lives. This is one of the things I loved about the book: Ellen Potter did a brilliant job of slowly peeling away the layers of Owen and Jeremy's past to reveal how they've become who they are. And, she did so with tremendous wit, humor and heart.

I absolutely loved this book and gobbled it up within a couple of hours. First and foremost, the story is absolutely hilarious. SLOB is unique in both its plot and storyline. The characters are quirky and fun, the story extraordinarily creative and written with intelligence. You cannot help but fall in love with Owen Birnbaum. He is brilliant and inventive, but even when he's being picked on and could easily fire back in anger, Owen is a person with tremendous inner resources, very clever . . . and he's really, really nice. He treats other people with kindness, even when he's being abused. When I find my copy of SLOB, it's going on the good shelves. It's around here somewhere, maybe having a party with that other book I misplaced.

Highly recommended, a terrific read with enough depth and wit to entertain older readers of YA. There is truly never a dull moment in SLOB.

And, speaking of YA books, there is a tremendous giveaway going on, here:

Win All Elizabeth Scott books

I've been in a YA mood, lately. I think I mentioned the fact that I whipped through The Dead and The Gone, this past weekend, right? Well, I did. The book hasn't yet made it into my sidebar, but it has a really pretty cover. I think I half wanted to buy a copy for the sake of that nifty green moon cover.

Currently Reading:

Gossamer by Lois Lowry, The Nonesuch by Georgette Heyer, and 50 People Every Christian Should Know by Warren W. Wiersbe.

Just Finished:

The Non-Runner's Marathon Guide for Women by Dawn Dais (thanks to Laura)

Next Review:

Love Begins in Winter by Simon Van Booy

If you live in or near Seattle, you can see Simon on Thursday or Friday. Check his tour schedule (that's what I linked to) -- he's headed to Washington, tomorrow, lucky guy. I've always wanted to see Washington. If you go, please tell him Bookfool sent you.

I'm slowly recovering from Blogger Burnout and hope to be back to blog-hopping, soon. I decided I should stay away from the computer as much as possible, and it seems to be helping. But, I'm also getting a little lonely, so I'll be back as soon as possible. Hope everyone is having a terrific week!

Bookfool in Recovery


  1. This book looks good. It is getting a lot of good reviews, anyway!

    How are you enjoying Gossamer? I thought it was a cute little book! Still with a serious vein, but a bit more light-hearted than Lowry's other books I have read!

  2. Kailana,

    SLOB is fantastic. When I closed the book, I did so with the thought that I'm going to have to read everything Ellen Potter has ever written. In fact, I looked for her books at Borders, last weekend, and didn't find a thing (but their organization in the children's and YA sections leaves something to be desired).

    Gossamer is wonderful! I stayed up late to finish it and when I woke up I realized I'd been reviewing it in my sleep. I thought I came up with some sparkling metaphors. LOL It does have a serious side, but it's a lovely story.

  3. Anonymous7:09 AM

    I'm definitely going to have to pick this one up! This is a great review, I can't wait to pick it up.

  4. I saw this book somewhere and was interested in it, but didn't know much about it. I'm glad to see that you really enjoyed it. I have never read anything by Ellen Potter, so this may be a good place to start.

    You mention Elizabeth Scott - I have Living Dead Girl on my TBR List. I hope to get to that one this year.

  5. Regularrumination,

    Thank you! I hope you enjoy the book as much as I did. :)


    SLOB was my first book by Ellen Potter and now I want to read everything she's ever written, if that tells you anything.

    I think I've got several of Eliz. Scott's books on my wishlist. Hope you get to Living Dead Girl, soon. I'd love to read your thoughts.

  6. THat is so funny that of all the books you could have lost, you lost one called SLOB. Not that you are a slob, because I dont think that you are, but that is pretty funny!

  7. Jessica,

    That is so funny that you picked up on that. Yeah, we're slobs. And, I have too many piles of books. I know where my copy of SLOB was last week but which pile I moved it to is a mystery.

  8. I loved SLOB too! I thought the characters were quirky but so true to life.

  9. Kathy,

    I so agree. The characters were very believable.

  10. It definitely sounds like another good one! :) Good luck finding it! I feel like I lose books constantly. lol

  11. I've been hearing a lot about this book lately and I'm glad you mentioned it was YA because I've been trying to figure it out (not that it matters, but I'm always on the look out for books little brother and sister might enjoy). Owen sounds like a great character--and interesting about the semi-autobiographical tidbits.

  12. Trish,

    You've been hearing a lot because SLOB was just released a week or two ago. Amazon says it's for ages 8-12, I think, so middle to young adult. I just read another Ellen Potter book, yesterday: Olivia Kidney. In both cases, the characters (Owen in SLOB, Olivia in her self-named book) are wonderful and there's a lot of humor combined with poignant moments -- both books involve children dealing with loss. I think they're excellent and definitely recommend this author.


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