Neanderthal Opens the Door to the Universe
Booklist Reviews 2018 May #1
*Starred Review* At six feet six and 250 pounds, self-hating 16-year-old Cliff is cruelly called "Neanderthal" by his bête noire, a golden boy named Aaron. When Aaron is injured in an accident, he goes into a coma from which he awakens to claim he has seen God, who has given him a list of five things he must do to improve life at Happy Valley High School. The kicker is that he must do them in concert with a highly dubious Cliff, who reluctantly goes along and slowly becomes Aaron's friend. Cliff's best friend, however, was his older brother, Shane, who killed himself a year earlier—but not before insisting that Cliff watch 2001: A Space Odyssey, focusing on the Monolith, which Shane claimed was the Door of Life. Cliff, he said, must find out what is on the other side. Meanwhile, one of the more difficult tasks Aaron and Cliff must complete is to get repentance from the JTs, a group of self-righteous Christian students who make life miserable for Noah, the only openly gay student at HVHS. There is much more going on in the crowded but compelling narrative. Ambitious almost to a fault, the book nevertheless cogently explores large issues that plague and perplex teens. Though occasionally it suffers from hints of contrivance, overall the novel will appeal to all teens who are, themselves, seeking doors to the universe. Grades 9-12. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2019 Spring
At six feet, six inches tall and two hundred and fifty pounds, Cliff Hubbard's cruel school nickname is "Neanderthal." At home, his hateful dad continues the bullying, and Cliff blames himself for his brother's recent suicide. Then quarterback Aaron has a near-death experience and God commands him to enlist Cliff's help to improve their school. Sixteen-year-old Cliff's expletive-filled, sharply funny, and bittersweet coming-of-age narrative is completely captivating. Copyright 2019 Horn Book Guide Reviews.
PW Reviews 2018 March #2
What if someone told you he was on a mission from God and you had to help him? What if that someone was the star quarterback and part-time bully at your high school, a guy who routinely calls you Neanderthal? That's exactly what happens to 16-year-old Cliff Hubbard, and Norton (