Jimmy Murphy’s sixth grade teacher, Sister Angelica Rose, is out to get him. She humiliates him in class and punishes him when he hasn’t done anything wrong. She even forces him to perform onstage with second-graders, wearing a giant green banana costume. A classic underachiever with a talent for trouble, Jimmy wants revenge, and with his friends he plans a prank that will embarrass Sister Angelica in front of the whole school. What could possibly go wrong?
Jimmy Murphy is "the sort of kid who could try the patience of a saint," and he gets plenty of opportunities to test that billing in this semi-autobiographical tale of Catholic school trauma, set in 1950s New Jersey. Jimmy begins sixth grade determined to start fresh in an attempt to redeem himself in the eyes of his crush, Kathy Guenther. But when his teacher, Sister Angelica, humiliates him in class, Jimmy and his friends come up with a plan to "invalidate, detonate, terminate, and murderlate her to pieces." Elaborate prank-planning ensues, all to help Jimmy get his revenge on the nun, but he winds up in deeper trouble before long, and even gets cast as a dancing banana in a second-grade play (embarrassment being the nuns' ultimate tool for punishment). Though the boys' threats of violence against Sister Angelica are made in jest, they come across more as disturbing than amusing. Still, Murphy (Breakthrough!), in a detour from his nonfiction work, conjures up some sweet, relatable moments for Jimmy and his peers. Ages 10 12.