Skip to main content

Smiles to Go

Review

Smiles to Go

When high school freshman Will Tuppence was five or six years old, he learned from a science-savvy neighbor that protons are “unsmashable” and last forever. Since that revelation, Will has been obsessed with astrology and believes that, because he is made up of zillions of protons, he, too, is unsmashable.

But on Saturday, September 26th at 10:15, Will’s world changes after he hears a report of a telltale flash that signals the death of a proton. Since that day, his calendar begins with PD1 --- the day he hears about the Proton’s Death. For Will, the death of the proton means that nothing --- including him --- lasts forever.

When Will is not in school, practicing on his skateboard or trying to avoid his annoying little sister, Tabitha (Tabby), he looks forward to playing Monopoly with his best friends, Mi-Su and Anthony Bontempo (BT). On special occasions, he and his pals --- sometimes with Tabby tagging along --- attend star parties, where they line up behind high-powered telescopes and gaze in wonder at the stars. 

Will is, by nature, a sensible planner who follows the rules. BT is the exact opposite, a risk taker who lives for the moment. While BT is the first to skateboard down Dead Man’s Hill, Will is reluctant to even try.

Will is curious about girls but unsure how to handle his first kiss. Always the planner, he writes down the details and rehearses his conversation to ask a girl to the freshman dance, only to find out that another boy has beaten him to it.  

When it’s time for Will to defend his chess title, he trains with his dad and focuses on winning, but Tabby does her best to distract him. She messes with his chess trophy and is determined to try out his skateboard, the Black Viper. At the championship tournament, he is poised to win in the semifinals, when his orderly world comes crashing down and he wonders if his life will ever be the same. 

Once again, Newbery Medal winner Jerry Spinelli shows why he is such an accomplished and acclaimed author. This story flows along like a lazy river on a sunny afternoon, and then out of nowhere, storm clouds form and whitecaps threaten. SMILES TO GO is a thoughtful and moving book about families and friendships and what’s really important in life.

Reviewed by Donna Volkenannt on August 25, 2009

Smiles to Go
by Jerry Spinelli

  • Publication Date: August 25, 2009
  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins
  • ISBN-10: 0064471977
  • ISBN-13: 9780064471978