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Buddha Boy, by Kathe Koja
Ebook Buddha Boy, by Kathe Koja
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The kids at school call Jinsen “Buddha Boy”—he wears oversize tie-dyed dragon T- shirts, shaves his head, and always seems to be smiling. He’s clearly a freak. Then Justin is paired with him for a class project. As he gets to know Jinsen and his incredible artistic talent, Justin questions his own beliefs. But being friends with Buddha Boy isn’t simple, especially when Justin realizes that he’s going to have to take sides. What matters more: the high school social order or getting to know someone extraordinary?
- Sales Rank: #29049 in Books
- Brand: Speak
- Published on: 2004-11-18
- Released on: 2004-11-18
- Original language: English
- Number of items: 1
- Dimensions: 6.81″ h x .38″ w x 4.19″ l, .19 pounds
- Binding: Mass Market Paperback
- 128 pages
From School Library Journal
Grade 7-10-Justin-an “average” kid-serves as the interface between readers (and to some extent his schoolmates) and Michael Martin, aka Buddha Boy, whose Buddhist teacher named him Jinsen, “fountain of God.” Justin mostly wants to pass through high school unnoticed (beneath the notice of the school’s “royalty”), doing his work and enjoying his friends. He is fortunate to have supportive, albeit divorced, parents-another facet of the novel that sets it apart in a field full of useless adults. But Justin is stirred out of his camouflage by the animosity that the new kid incites, quite unintentionally, simply by being different. Both irritated and intrigued by Jinsen’s apparent imperturbability to his tormentors, Justin is also astonished by Jinsen’s artistic abilities. Koja flawlessly walks a tightrope in her presentation of Jinsen-devout without being sanctimonious, insufferable, or simply unbelievable-and solidly nails the small-minded, fearful, and even paranoid mind-set that dominates the high school milieu. Like Chris Crutcher and Chris Lynch, the author is deeply concerned with the psychological motivations for behavior and the belief that explicable causes generally underlie what may seem to be inexplicable actions. At the heart of her story is a deeply religious character who is neither naive nor clownish, neither self-righteous nor pitiful. Buddha Boy has a whole lot of action compressed into a short time span, but Koja admirably refuses to yield to melodramatic writing or black-and-white solutions. Quickly paced, inviting, and eye-opening, this is a marvelous addition to YA literature.
Coop Renner, Blackshear Elementary School, Austin, TX
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Gr. 6-10. No one in the rich, suburban high school likes the weird new kid who looks like a Buddhist monk and begs at lunch. But Justin is drawn to the stranger and defends him against vicious school bullies. Koja’s short novel is openly preachy, and the packed plot is absurdly contrived: the saintly outsider turns out to be an amazingly gifted artist who was once a delinquent as violent as the school bullies–until his parents died and he went catatonic and a Buddhist art teacher showed him how to find truth and beauty in art and religion . . . It’s the simple writing, along with Justin’s informal first-person narrative, that will draw readers to the crucial ethical issues, especially “the social-status in-out thing” among the kids, and the way school authorities accept it. Then there’s the elemental question of how hard it is to do the right thing, and to keep on doing it. “We’re all gods inside, right? Karma, right?” Teens will find much to talk about here. Hazel Rochman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
A compelling introduction to Buddhism and a credible portrait of how true friendship brings out the best in people. (Publishers Weekly, starred review)
A compelling tale of friendship and of finding oneÆs own inner strength. (VOYA)
Most helpful customer reviews
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful.
By A Customer
Buddha Boy review
Buddha Boy by Kathe Koja is a realistic fiction story of a religious young boy named Jinsen, who is new at Rucher High School. The kids make fun of him for his dragon t-shirts and peaceful ways. Especially McManus, a popular hot-shot that likes to put others down. McManus does things like shoving Jinsen into lockers and jamming Jinsens locker. Justin, another student at Rucher High became friends with Jinsen despite the names other people were calling him. Justin’s father is an artist and does not visit Justin very often. Jinsen just happens to be the best artist in the school. This draws Justin to Jinsen. Can Jinsen overcome what other people think and sketch his way to the top? You will have to find out yourself.
I would have to give this book a 4.5 out of 5 star rating. I enjoyed this book so much because of the simple writing style that was easy to follow yet effective to tell the story. This author really puts you in the shoes of Justin who is becoming friends with Jinsen. One thing that I didn’t like about this book is the fact that it was a mere 117 pages which really turned me off when I saw this book. I really wish I could have kept on reading this book. I believe that you will love the story of Justin and Jinsen, 2 boys trying to make their way at Rucher High School.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful.
Koja makes the Best of the Year list. Again.
By Robert Beveridge
Kathe Koja, Buddha Boy (Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux, 2003)
I got to the point about eight years ago where I finally gave in to the temptation to predict an author. After the back-to-back triumphs that were Skin and Strange Angels, I figured that from here on out, anything Kathe Koja would release would be brilliant, and every book she released would find its way onto my top ten for whatever year in which I read it.
Then she started writing kidlit. I approached Straydog with some trepidation, but it not only made last year’s best-of list, it topped it. So I had no such qualms hunting down her second piece of young adult fiction, Buddha Boy. Needless to say, I wasn’t surprised, at least not by the quality.
Justin is an Everyman in an Everyman’s high school; if you went to high school in America, you’ll probably recognize all the archetypes to be found here. The school gets a new student, Jinsen. To call Jinsen, an aspiring Zen monk, different would be the understatement of the year. And we all know what happens to different kids in high school.
Justin, however, assigned to a class project with Jinsen, discovers that Jinsen is one of the finest artists Justin has ever come across, and thus grudgingly befriends the kid the others at school call Buddha Boy. From all this springs this small, delicate tale.
Koja’s writing is, as usual, short and to the point. Even the slowest reader will probably get through Buddha Boy in no more than a couple of days. Most people will be able to find someone here to identify with (though many won’t like what they see in the book’s looking-glass), and the story is compelling enough to draw the reader through, perhaps in a single gulp. Nothing surprising there.
What is surprising, perhaps, is the language she chooses. It seems, especially in comparison with Straydog, that Koja’s language is slipping back towards that she used in her adult novels. Not that she talked down to the audience in Straydog or that she elevates them here; it’s a slight difference in tone, a barren quality from Skin and Strange Angels that was (despite the painfulness of Straydog’s subject matter) absent from the previous book.
She’s got a new one coming out any day now, The Blue Mirror. I can’t wait. **** ½
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful.
Devoured it in one sitting.
Great book–similar to Stargirl by Spinnelli in that it portrays an individualistic teen who flaunts the established social behaviors. Would be great for discussion!
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