Death by Toilet Paper

by Donna Gephart

Book, 2015

Barcode

123462557

Call number

J 500 GEP

Collection

Publication

Yearling (2015), 288 pages

Description

Contest-crazed twelve-year-old Ben uses his wits and way with words in hopes of winning a prize that will keep his family from being evicted until his mother can pass her final CPA examination.

User reviews

LibraryThing member Merryann
This book seemed like a painful hybrid of the cocky humorous middle school fiction and the somber and gritty coming of age stories. The cover pulled me to the book, and the concept sounded great to me. The writing was smooth and well done. I liked Benjamin from the first page and was ready to be in
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his world. But what a world! One bad thing after another happens to this kid, and while I can see that many bad things could rationally occur as a domino effect of the major bad thing - the death of his father – too many of the actions that happen in the book do not strike me as things real people would actually do or say; they are events too clearly designed simply to move the story along.
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LibraryThing member AMQS
The day I picked this one up my 15 year-old daughter read it in one sitting and told me it made her cry. I admit I was surprised -- it hardly seems like a sad read -- until I read it myself, and indeed, it is a tearjerker. Ben Epstein is a middle schooler with a lot going on. He has a lifetime love
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of contests and sweepstakes, but now his entries have a lot more riding on them: since his father passed away last year, he and his mom are struggling financially, and trying to hang on until she can pass the (expensive) exams to earn her CPA license and get a better job than the one she now has at the pancake house. The symbolic indignity of their reduced circumstances is the necessity to purchase the cheap, awful toilet paper (if you hadn't guessed by the title, toilet paper and all things bathroom are major factors in the book). Ben's hopes are pinned on the creation of a new slogan for the "good kind" of toilet paper: the winning entry will win $10,000.

This is a great story, with a good balance of funny, gross, and poignant. Ben's grief, when it spills over, is absolutely wrenching. The challenges he faces make your spirits sink lower and lower: his mother is let go from her crummy job, Ben is victimized by a school bully, Ben and his mother face eviction, Ben's grandfather comes to live with them, Ben's grandfather battles dementia... it all works, but at some point it just feels like too much: the author is trying too hard. Over on Amazon there are so many superlative reviews, and while I enjoyed it, it is not a 5-star read for me -- perhaps I would have loved it more if I had read it aloud. Ms. Gephart has created a book chock-full of toilet facts and gross-out bits (well-timed puking, and the fact that Ben's best friend is a gruesome make-up artist), along with a lovely and aching story of a young family struggling. I felt like the author's focus was To Appeal To Boys rather than to tell a great story. Still, a good read, and one to recommend to boys:)
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LibraryThing member Sullywriter
A funny, charming family story.
LibraryThing member Mrslabraden
Death by Toilet Paper is an excellent book. Benjamin Epstein's father died of cancer a year ago. On his deathbed, Ben's father tells him that he must assume the responsibility of taking care of Ben's mother. Since then, Ben's grandfather, who has memory issues, has moved in, and they are all about
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to be evicted from their apartment for being too far behind on their rent. Ben tries many things to help with the finances including selling candy bars at school and entering as many sweepstakes as he can in hopes of winning the jackpot. Along the way, Ben learns a lot about himself, his family, and his friends. Each chapter begins with a factoid about toilet paper and toilet use. This was a wonderful story that I read in one sitting because it was so well written. The emotions in the story are very intense and realistic, making this book even that much better.
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LibraryThing member ftbooklover
Death by Toilet Paper is an excellent book. Benjamin Epstein's father died of cancer a year ago. On his deathbed, Ben's father tells him that he must assume the responsibility of taking care of Ben's mother. Since then, Ben's grandfather, who has memory issues, has moved in, and they are all about
Show More
to be evicted from their apartment for being too far behind on their rent. Ben tries many things to help with the finances including selling candy bars at school and entering as many sweepstakes as he can in hopes of winning the jackpot. Along the way, Ben learns a lot about himself, his family, and his friends. Each chapter begins with a factoid about toilet paper and toilet use. This was a wonderful story that I read in one sitting because it was so well written. The emotions in the story are very intense and realistic, making this book even that much better.
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LibraryThing member ewyatt
This light-hearted read was funny and touching. Ben is about to lose a lot. Not only can't he and his mom afford the good toilet paper, they no longer have a home phone and have an eviction notice outside their door.
Much of the book is a struggle to try to pay the rent while recovering from the
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loss of Ben's dad, adjusting to his grandpa moving in, and his mom's attempts to try to finish her CPA to get a good paying job. Ben is a sweepstaker, constantly entering contests that might get them something.
A quick, enjoyable read with a happy ending after the struggles.
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LibraryThing member MrNattania72
I had a very difficult time getting into this book. I would definitely recommend to my younger readers. A cute book for a quick read.

Language

Original language

English

Physical description

288 p.; 7.6 inches

ISBN

0385374178 / 9780385374170
Page: 0.1546 seconds