Goodbye, Mr. Terupt
(Mr. Terupt #4)
December 1, 2020
Oh my. Rob Buyea does it again. I’ve loved following Mr. Terupt and the seven students (Jeffrey, Luke, Peter, Alexia, Anna, Jessica, and Danielle) from his old fifth grade class through books #1 to #3. There was a little bit of concern that this story might not be as meaningful, but those fears were completely unnecessary. In this book, the kids are in 8th grade while Mr. Terupt is still back in 7th grade, but they still get to see him for their advisory period and he’s still involved with the wrestlers. The book begins with the seven students learning that Mr. Terupt is moving away to be closer to his wife’s family. This is a shock to everyone. So to cope with the separation, they do two things: (1) create a time capsule to open at the end of the school year, and (2) they create a bucket list of things to do before he’s gone.
While the character development in the previous three books was really good, I felt like I truly got to know each of these students, deeply, in this final(?) book. There’s a great deal of focus on Jeffrey who is attempting to lower his weight to join the high school wrestling team. His emotions are all over the place, for that reason. And he will have some regrets to face before the end of this book. Peter is angry from the moment he finds out Mr. Terupt is leaving. Like, over the top angry. So that was difficult to witness without just wanting to shake him up. Luke is such a wonderful scientist. His fascination with learning is inspiring and a joy to witness. Danielle has a lot to deal with due to managing her diabetes, but she also shows some romantic interest for the first time in the series. Anna is navigating feelings about her relationship with her mom, feeling unimportant in the midst of change. I think Lexie matures the most in this one. She’s always been rather dramatic and in this book she is completely invested in her mom’s illness while also facing the possibility that she carries the gene that will make her ill one day. And finally, Jessica seems quite mature for her age. Always attempting to keep up group morale while navigating her parent’s potentially mended relationship.
I could not get over the number of hilarious scenes, so masterfully written to make me laugh out loud — from experiences with a breast milk pump to a final surprise gift left for Mr. Terupt, from Peter. Yet tears were inevitable. I think the height of my emotions came during a bucket list project where students raise funds by agreeing to have their heads shaved. It was incredibly moving to see the selflessness, maturity, and bravery these students displayed for no other reason than love and empathy.
While I’m not certain that this is the conclusion to this series, it would certainly be a good one. Everything ended on a high note with a mixture of laughter, tears, and hope in those final pages. There was that lingering feeling that Mr. Terupt has been there for us all over the years — steady, strong, patient, and kind. Now I’m super excited for Buyea’s next middle grade novel, What Comes Next, coming out June 2021.
My thanks to Netgalley and Delacorte Press for providing me with an e-ARC so that I could share my honest review. Goodbye, Mr. Terupt is available now in bookstores, everywhere.