The Next Great Paulie Fink

The Next Great Paulie Fink

When Caitlyn Breen enters the tiny Mitchell School in rural Mitchell, Vermont, she is a complete outsider: the seventh grade has just ten other kids, and they've known each other since kindergarten. Her classmates are in for a shock of their own: Paulie Fink--the class clown, oddball, troublemaker, and evil genius--is gone this year. As stories of Paulie's hijinks unfold,...

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Title:The Next Great Paulie Fink
Author:Ali Benjamin
Rating:
Edition Language:English

The Next Great Paulie Fink Reviews

  • Tamara York

    I loved The Thing About Jellyfish, so I was so excited to find an ARC of this at the library book sale. It was just fantastic. A wonderful book about middle school and all of the feelings that kids have as they adjust to a new school, new friends, and legends left behind by former students. The story is set in an eccentric small town school in an old mansion, with goats. It’s a school that every reader would want to attend. The characters are vivid, unique, and fun. You root for these kids. I ca

    I loved The Thing About Jellyfish, so I was so excited to find an ARC of this at the library book sale. It was just fantastic. A wonderful book about middle school and all of the feelings that kids have as they adjust to a new school, new friends, and legends left behind by former students. The story is set in an eccentric small town school in an old mansion, with goats. It’s a school that every reader would want to attend. The characters are vivid, unique, and fun. You root for these kids. I can’t recommend this enough. So good.

  • Sally Sugarman

    This book came highly recommended and as I started it I hoped I would like it. No problem. It was even more wonderful than I was led to expect. It was the point late in the book when I was crying that I realized it had everything that makes a book worth reading. One of its strengths is the variety of presentations with interviews interposed with a personal narrative so that we get to know all the characters beyond the main narrator Caitlyn Breen on our own. Caitlyn finds herself entering a weir

    This book came highly recommended and as I started it I hoped I would like it. No problem. It was even more wonderful than I was led to expect. It was the point late in the book when I was crying that I realized it had everything that makes a book worth reading. One of its strengths is the variety of presentations with interviews interposed with a personal narrative so that we get to know all the characters beyond the main narrator Caitlyn Breen on our own. Caitlyn finds herself entering a weird broken down small school in Vermont. Her mother has moved to a new job in Vermont and seventh grader Caitlyn feels an outsider particularly when she is given stories of an eccentric student who has disappeared. The school is in a town that has lost its major industry and is a substitute for the public school that had to be closed for lack of funds. There are ten seventh graders, most of whom have been in the school since kindergarten. It is a world completely alien to Caitlyn. How she and the situation changes over time is the story. Meanwhile, both the students and the reader get to know a great deal about Greek mythology and history and how it applies to the contemporary world. This is one of those books that you read in one sitting as it deals easily with so many important issues while creating a world of delightful individuals.

  • Sarah

    This book is a lot of fun! The rather unrealistic story of one memorable class of seventh grade students, their teachers, and their idolized former classmate. Although many of the events in the book are quite far-fetched the characters' reactions are extremely plausible. Additionally, at the heart of the book is an important message about the way we view others and the way our perceptions are limited. I especially appreciated how one clever teacher managed to incorporate Ancient Greek history in

    This book is a lot of fun! The rather unrealistic story of one memorable class of seventh grade students, their teachers, and their idolized former classmate. Although many of the events in the book are quite far-fetched the characters' reactions are extremely plausible. Additionally, at the heart of the book is an important message about the way we view others and the way our perceptions are limited. I especially appreciated how one clever teacher managed to incorporate Ancient Greek history into her lessons and, in turn, into this novel.

    Although this book bears no resemblance to The Thing About Jellyfish, Ali Benjamin has managed, yet again, to flex her writing prowess in the form of a middle grade novel that both delights and educates.

  • Kristen Beverly

    I think this will be a great book for its target audience - middle graders and will be a bit more difficult for older fans of the author to read. It’s got a lot of really great lessons for kids.

  • Maria

    Happy pub day to The Next Great Paulie Fink! Thanks to Hachette Book Group Canada who provided me with a free advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

    I loved Ali Benjamin's debut novel,

    , and she hasn't published anything new in several years, so I was thrilled when I saw she was publishing a second novel! Both of Benjamin's books are middle grade and I'll admit, when I read the plot synopsis for Paulie Fink, it didn't appeal to me quite as much as her first book

    Happy pub day to The Next Great Paulie Fink! Thanks to Hachette Book Group Canada who provided me with a free advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

    I loved Ali Benjamin's debut novel,

    , and she hasn't published anything new in several years, so I was thrilled when I saw she was publishing a second novel! Both of Benjamin's books are middle grade and I'll admit, when I read the plot synopsis for Paulie Fink, it didn't appeal to me quite as much as her first book because it sounded more juvenille. But don't let that deter you from reading this one because I ended up really liking it!

    The Next Great Paulie Fink is about 7th grader, Caitlyn Breen, who is a new student at Mitchell School. Caitlyn's mom got a new job and moved them both to rural Vermont from New York, a decision that was not very popular with Caitlyn. Her new school seems totally backwards from her old school and doesn't seem to follow any of the social "rules" she learned in New York. The kids in her new class all seem eccentric to Caitlyn and they are caught up in the disappearance of one of their former classmates, Paulie Fink.

    Paulie was the class clown and beloved by his classmates. But he doesn't return for 7th grade and no one knows what happened to him. He leaves a void behind that the kids want to fill with a new Paulie, so they decide to have a reality show competition to find the Next Great Paulie Fink. Caitlyn's struggles to get on board with the competition since she never knew Paulie, but her classmates convince her to judge the competition and suddenly she's thrust into a totally new world that scares her, but challenges her.

    Granted, it's been a few years since I read The Thing about Jellyfish, but this book had quite a different tone from that book. It's a lot funnier and it has a large cast of characters to carry the story. It's overwhelming at first trying to keep track of Caitlyn's classmates, but eventually they all start to develop personalities of their own, and while Caitlyn is always our central character, I really loved some of her classmates as well.

    Like I said, I initially wondered if I would glean much from this book as an adult reader, or if it really was tailored for kids. But I ended up really liking it and even though the themes were younger, I still thought the author did a great job at making this a well rounded story that could be enjoyed at any age. I particularly liked how she approached bullying in this book. Moving to a new school and finding it absent of the social structure that was in her last school, Caitlyn starts reflecting on some of the interactions she had with her former classmates and how some of her actions may have been hurtful. Because her class is so small (a dozen students), and because they are so rural, her classmates are all very supportive of one another and Caitlyn initially struggles with that. She protected herself in her old school by growing a hard shell and disconnecting her emotions from those around her, and in her new school, she struggles to let herself be vulnerable and that hard shell actually creates a barrier with her new classmates.

    I also really liked the author's exploration of legends and kleos (glory). Paulie was a legend at Mitchell and in their search for the next Paulie, the students learn about kleos and what makes someone memorable or a legend. The catch is, kleos can make us forget things too. When we glorify someone, it's easy to forget the things that made them human or the things that annoyed you about them. We later discover that Paulie was really just as human as the rest of the students, but because of the reputation he developed at Mitchell, the students started over-hyping who he was and to an extent, lost sight of the real Paulie and failed to notice the unique things that they have to offer in their quest to be more like Paulie.

    I liked a lot of the secondary characters, but (no surprise I'm sure) Fiona was definitely my favourite. Fiona wears a power suit to school every single day because she wants to one day be a powerful woman. She's not great at school and struggles to pay attention in class. But she is buoyed by her belief that "well-behaved women seldom make history". All of the students at Mitchell had so much spunk and I loved watching a group of kids be so great at supporting one another. Was it realistic? I'm not really sure. But I think that was kind of the point. Mitchell school was doing something right - it didn't seem like a place should exist like this, but somehow it did. When you find something special like that, it's worth protecting, even if it challenges your worldview.

    Mostly though, this book was just a lot of fun. There's lots to make you laugh and lots to make you think. I think Caitlyn's classmates are right in that sweet spot where they're still children, but are about to become teenagers. Caitlyn was pushed to mature a little earlier growing up in New York, which is why she has hardened herself against the world. But these students are still idealistic and not yet jaded about the world. Overall, I loved the balance of humour and life lessons about growing up.

  • Lana

    At first, I didn't really think this book is something I would like to read, I just didn't think it would appeal to my taste. But no, it was like, really good.

    The Next Great Paulie Fink is all about the horrors, ups, downs, and how to overcome that evil middle school version of yourself. It follows the life of Caitlyn Breen ,a girl in seventh grade that has to move to a new middle school in the middle of nowhere. She has to overcome the obstacle that is finding

    At first, I didn't really think this book is something I would like to read, I just didn't think it would appeal to my taste. But no, it was like, really good.

    The Next Great Paulie Fink is all about the horrors, ups, downs, and how to overcome that evil middle school version of yourself. It follows the life of Caitlyn Breen ,a girl in seventh grade that has to move to a new middle school in the middle of nowhere. She has to overcome the obstacle that is finding yourself. At the same time, she hears stories about a kid names Paulie Fink who, apparently, impacted the school and kids greatly.

    This book is different. It really shows the real side of middle school and how it was (truly) not the greatest. Hell. It was straight up hell, and this book shows that but with metaphors.

  • Lizz Axnick

    The Next Great Paulie Fink is about a girl, Caitlin, who moves to a teeny town in Vermont to start seventh grade. When she gets there, she meets an eccentric group of classmates who have essentially known each other forever as there are only 11 kids, including Caitlin, in the seventh grade at this school.

    The remaining 10 classmates are missing their class-clown this year, Paulie Fink. No one knows where he went or why he left. On further questioning, no one remembers his family or where he live

    The Next Great Paulie Fink is about a girl, Caitlin, who moves to a teeny town in Vermont to start seventh grade. When she gets there, she meets an eccentric group of classmates who have essentially known each other forever as there are only 11 kids, including Caitlin, in the seventh grade at this school.

    The remaining 10 classmates are missing their class-clown this year, Paulie Fink. No one knows where he went or why he left. On further questioning, no one remembers his family or where he lived in this small town. Paulie was with the class from fourth through sixth grade and provided a multitude of silly anecdotes and pranks for these kids.

    Caitlin struggles to fit in with this group. The reason I don't like her character is that for two-thirds of the story, she is a bully. She used to pick on a girl in her old school, for fun and constantly refers to not being like this girl at her new school. For a while she acts like she is better than most of her class. She is quite unlikeable and even when she does become "one of them" it was too far into the story for me to really like her.

    The story goes on for the remaining 10 classmates to compete in a competition to replace Paulie Fink. Cailtin, being an outsider is the judge. The tasks are somewhat clever and it was nice to see a classmate leave such a lasting impression.

    I think this is a good book to give to kids who are starting in a new school, big or small. It resonated with me because I moved from urban Anaheim to Florence, Oregon for my senior year of high school and everyone knew everyone and I felt like I didn't belong. In the end I made some good friends that I still have today but it was like I was sitting on the edge of things watching for a long time.

    The moral of the story of course, don't be mean to people because they are different. You may be the different one some day and certainly don't want that for yourself.

  • Meag McKeron

    2.5 stars. Maybe kids will enjoy this more than I did. I just found the story moved pretty slowly and all of the connections to Greek mythology felt really forced. There were tons of moments where I thought to myself, “a kid would never say that.” It all just fell a little flat for me.

  • Monica Edinger

    I enjoyed this. Liked the idea of the absent Paulie being revered and the clever notion of a contest to replace him. Completely engaging and an entertaining read.

  • Hannah Greendale

    DNF at page 100. This is unfocused and lacks intrigue. A significant departure from the depth, insight, and emotional gravity of

    .

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