Cover image for Who the man
Who the man
Lynch, Chris.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : HarperCollins, [2002]

Physical Description:
186 pages : color illustrations ; 22 cm
Thirteen-year-old Earl Pryor is much too big for his age, and much too powerful for the anger that rages within him when classmates tease him, the girl he likes disappoints him, or his parents' problems get too real.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 4.3 6.0 65361.

Format :


Call Number
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Item Holds
X Young Adult Fiction Young Adult

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Earl got big. Or, rather, big got Earl. Earl Pryor is the biggest thirteen-year-old anyone ever saw. He's taller than a lot of grown-ups. He's got a hairy chest. He shaves. High school kids ask him to buy them beer. Everyone thinks Earl's so tough, such a troublemaker, such a man. They come to him looking for a fight. And Earl will fight them. But he's not so tough: He loves his mom, loves his dad. Still, a man's got to take care of himself. He's got to make people respect him. If Earl's dad has taught him anything, he's taught him that. When Earl gets suspended from school for a week for fighting, he figures he'll fill up the days somehow. But a lot can happen in a week. His family is falling apart. Everything he counted on is falling apart, and Earl's still learning what it really means to be a man.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 6^-9. Thirteen-year-old Earl Pryor is big and powerful for his age (he looks so old that high-school seniors ask him to buy beer for them). That's a problem when he gets angry, which seems to happen a lot. When his classmates tease him, the girl he likes disappoints him, and his parents' marital problems get to be too much for him to handle, his anger turns to rage. What's worse, Earl never backs down from a fight, because, as his dad has taught him, a man must have respect. His fighting finally gets him suspended from school^-just in time to watch his parents' fragile marriage fall apart. When he sees his dad cry, Earl realizes that human relationships are complicated, determining right from wrong isn't always "a simple deal," and he still has a lot to learn about what it means to be a man. In this testosterone-laden tale, Lynch challenges readers to consider gender stereotypes--boys don't cry; boys solve their problems with their fists^-as he follows a young man's painful journey toward self-discovery. --Ed Sullivan

Publisher's Weekly Review

"Right and wrong is a simple deal, and everybody knows it. As long as you have all the facts, right and wrong make themselves very clear to you," begins 13-year-old Earl Pryor, who narrates this tale of one life-changing week. Through Earl's first-person narration, Lynch (Freewill) lays bare the pivotal period in adolescence when the world changes from the black-and-white simplicity of childhood innocence to the gray area of adulthood. Earl may remind adult readers of Steinbeck's Lenny in Of Mice and Men: his tenderness comes through in his fierce protection of his best friend, Bobby, and 16-year-old neighbor, Louisa, as well as in his deep loyalty to his parents, but all too often he uses his size 14 feet and giant limbs to prove his point. After a scuffle at school leads to a week's suspension, the structures that Earl relies upon so heavily quickly begin to unravel; he becomes disillusioned with the Catholic church, Louisa and, in the denouement, even his parents. Some readers may have trouble trusting Earl's narration at first, but if they stay with it, they gradually observe his inner monologue marrying up with the events around him. Lynch creates a hypnotic voice ("Somebody sees me and sees a man. Somebody sees me and sees a boy. Somebody sees me not at all") in this striking chronicle of a painful transition from boyhood to manhood. Ages 10-up. (Dec.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 5-8-At 13, Earl is bigger and physically more mature than the other kids in his school, and he doesn't hesitate to use violence to handle conflicts. His tough-talking father actually eggs him on and encourages him to take care of himself. The novel follows a week in the boy's life after he has been suspended from school for fighting. In a rhythmic first-person narration, Lynch gets inside the head of the type of student who exists in many schools-the misunderstood kid whose confusion and anger gets him pegged as a brute and a bully, yet hidden beneath are layers of sensitivity, vulnerability, and loneliness. Readers are privy to Earl's confused thoughts about his parents, religion, his one friend, and an older girl on whom he has a crush. During that same week, he shows the first inklings of a new understanding of the world, learning that most situations are not black and white, and right and wrong are not defined in terms of absolutes. Things come to a head when Earl spots his father with another woman. In a conclusion that seems somewhat hurried and jumps ahead in time, he is last seen adjusting to his parents' divorce and is beginning to understand himself better. While there isn't much story here, the novel successfully captures the nuances of Earl's character, and is superbly written.-Todd Morning, Schaumburg Township Public Library, IL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Who the Man Chapter One Big Man Right and wrong is a simple deal, and everybody knows it. As long as you have all the facts, right and wrong make themselves very clear to you. If you really want to know. Don't ever be a rat. You don't fink. It's not right. No matter what, you don't fink, and you don't complain. It's just not what you do. It's just not right. And don't lie. Don't lie, don't fink, don't complain. I try not to complain. But what can you do sometimes? Times like these times. Times like these days -- and these days, they are all like these days. Deep dark cold night-all-day winter days that won't give you a break, ever. On these days, I find myself at school, or on my way to school, before I even realize that I am awake, that I have gotten up and eaten and dressed and all prior to finding myself where I am. It's as if I have woken up right on the pavement in mid-stride or in my seat waiting for class to begin, or like I never even slept at all but am still walking through yesterday and the day before because they are really all just one long dark restless winter day that won't give you a break. Days like that, like these, they just make you feel angry the whole time. Like somebody somewhere is pulling something on you, but you can't quite put your finger on who. And you really want to put a finger on him. By the time I become aware of things today, I am delivering milk. I am the milkman today. We have a milk program here, and we all get the chance to deliver the milk on a special trolley all around school when it's our turn. The milk company comes by and drops the stuff off at the back door where it sits and freezes in the tiny little cartons that are stacked up inside the plastic-cube carrier crates that are then stacked up on top of each other in a tower as tall as me. it's a lot of milk and a fair-size school, so two kids from our class get the assignment each week, one taking the rooms on the east side of the corridor and the other the west until everybody has milk. It's a chunk out of class time, a bite out of the boring day, so most people love to do it. I don't. I don't feel like seeing any people today. Now I get to see everybody. At least everybody on the east side of the corridor. "Well well well well," says Mrs. Sanderson, the firstgrade teacher, as I wheel my stupid squeaky cart into her classroom. I always get the stupid squeaky-wheel cart when it's my turn, and I don't know how that is, why that is. Somebody has to be rigging things, and I'm going to find out. They could at least oil the wheels, but they don't. And Derek, who's the other milk Dud with me, even the law of averages would say that he'd get the squeaky wheels sometimes. But never. And he's always pulling stuff like this. He's never left with the blunt scissors that make your artwork look like you've been biting it off instead of cutting it. He never gets to the pencil sharpener when it's so full of shavings it's puking up curly bits all over the place. These things don't happen to just anybody, and they don't happen by accident. I am going to find out about this. No slipping into or out of any classrooms unnoticed when you have this stupid squeaky cart, and that stinks. I just want to be quiet and unnoticed and go about my -- "Class!" Mrs. Sanderson says with so much enthusiasm you would think the Christmas break was just ahead instead of lying dead in the snow behind us. "Class, do you see this big strapping man right here?" Of course they see me, Mrs. Sanderson. You kind of made it impossible not to see me even if it was possible not to see me, which it's probably not, even if they didn't want to see me, which they probably didn't, and even if I didn't want to be seen, which I definitely did not. But I like her anyway. I have liked her all the time. " This fine strapping tower of a man," she says, frogmarching me away from my stupid squeaky cart to the front of her class, "was once right in here, where you children are now sitting. Can you believe it?" Their innocent little first-grade faces say they cannot believe it. I must look like a tree to them. They must have thought that milk came from trees. Mrs. Sanderson has an arm around me. That is, she has a hand on my shoulder as she stretches to try and drape an arm over me. She's really little. And really proud. As if she is somehow responsible for the size of me. As if the size of me is something to be proud of, anyway. "He used to fit in one of those desks like you children are sitting in right now." The kids all wriggle now, and murmur, stretching around them to look at their own legs under those desks, to try and see their own little backsides on those connected seats. Like there is some kind of answer there, to the physical wonder of me. "So," Mrs. Sanderson says, giving my shoulder a last extra pat, "make sure, all of you, that you drink our milk up, to grow straight and strong just like big Earl Pryor." I could break up that stupid squeaky cart, right now into five million pieces. Break it right over that rat Derek's head. Like it or not -- and the answer is not -- I have a job to do, and when I have a job to do, it gets done. But it gets no better. It almost scares me, the quiet slashed apart by my squeaky wheels in the big open empty corridor of the school. The ceiling is high, the floor is checkerboard black and white, and the silences are silent and the noises exaggerated. I want to be alone, and I can't. I want to be unknown, and I can't. Every step I take, with its accompanying trailing sound track, makes my heart beat a beat faster, makes my hands mad so that they squeeze the handle of the trolley just that much harder, so my own effort is making my fingers redder than even the frozen milk did. My stomach feels so hard and tense you could bounce a cannonball off it. Who the Man . Copyright © by Chris Lynch. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from Who the Man by Chris Lynch All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.