Cover Image: Growing Up Meathead

Growing Up Meathead

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Member Reviews

Growing Up Meathead is a slice-of-life story about the author James B. Zimmerman’s pre-teen years. The book is a composite picture of a young boy’s life, growing up in the 1970s in the suburbs of Baltimore. 
Jimmy, or Meathead as he is known to all his friends, is eager to get his friends and peers to accept him. For this, he does everything from getting into fights to shoplifting. But beneath all the bravado, Meathead is trying to deal with an alcoholic father, frequent fights at home, and his beloved grandfather’s impending death from cancer. 

Although the book was a fast and easy read, I felt put off by some of the things he describes. Instances like humiliating a girl at the swimming pool to show off in front of his friends and feeling “ashamed to have to make peace with such little kids, and, yeah, a girl” made me cringe. Yes, this was the 1970s when such attitudes were common. Yes, we are speaking about 11-year-olds. Still. 

The book could also have done with some deft editing too to make the chapters more connected.

Growing Up Meathead is a good look at the very different realities that a pre-teen has. Although set in the US, the themes are universal. The angst of being a teenager, coping with harsh realities, the thrill of secret adventures with friends. Zimmerman, who is now a grandfather, pens his experiences with heartfelt honesty accompanied by simple pencil-type sketches. 

I do like that the story prompted a trip down nostalgia lane for me. It made me think of my own childhood and the things I missed the most – summer vacations with my cousins, idle afternoons where my grandmother would narrate snippets from her childhood, book shopping with my father... 

So, would I recommend this book? Yes, read it for the good parts, for the sincere portrayal of growing up. 

My rating is 3.5. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for sending me the ARC!
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Loved this book read it in one sitting loved all the characters and the close bond with meathead and his grandfather xx
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I expected a comics book when it was categorized by that but no, it's book with illustrations. And, I did not like that. But it is only because I do not like to read this type of book. But, being objective, it was good, with a moral message and maybe younger readers are the right category of readers.
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As a gentleman in his forties, I didn’t imagine I was entirely the demographic for this book. Full disclosure - I didn’t realise it was a young adult novel when I requested it. I liked the sound of the subject matter and the cover filled me with a certain kind of happiness. But why was this story not for me, I wondered. I was young once wasn’t I? Yes I was! I did some of the things our protagonist does! (Possibly.) Alas, I realised as I turned the pages that I was indeed selling myself short - it was a relatable tale, full of boyhood nostalgia and enterprising high-jinks! Of course there are high-jinks, after all our hero is called ‘Meathead’, so you probably weren’t expecting a stone-cold-serious narrative. That said, of course, it does also come with an enjoyably liberal dose of both sentimentality and life-lessons. And if all that isn’t quite enough to still tickle your fancy, the book is also accompanied by beautifully rendered black and grey illustrations on many of the pages.

In summary, whether you are young or old, or male or female, this is a lovely story that will remain fondly in your mind long after you have turned the final page. Highly recommended.

Sincere thanks to James B Zimmerman, Black Rose Writing, and Netgalley for allowing me to enjoy it without charge in return for an honest review.
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Growing Up Meathead was an enjoyable story, and the pictures interspersed throughout gave the reading experience a new level. I enjoyed reading about "meathead" and his friend's adventures, though they rarely ever ended well. The mix of goofball adventures and sincere emotional scenes gave the book a very authentic feel.
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This is a coming of age novel for young men, probably pre teen rather than older.  It is a moral book, the lessons Meathead learnt about stealing and lying are heartfelt.  The passages about the illness and death of Meathead’s grandfather were poignant and realistic.  It even mentions in passing depression but does not enlarge on this.  There is a light touch to the lessons.    

I read this because I am often asked for realistic books by girls.  I am not sure this will find interest amongst the boys though.  I cannot explain why because it does have potential.
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Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing this book in exchange for an honest review. 
Oh the "joys" of adolescence and peer pressure! This book is laugh out loud funny. The things Meathead does to make and keep friends is relatable. The illustrations were a nice addition.  I recommend this to anyone who wants a quick, funny book to read.
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