The Fingertips of Duncan Dorfman by Meg Wolitzer

You may not think that a book about Scrabble would keep you turning the pages, but Meg Wolitzer’s The Fingertips of Duncan Dorfman kept me engaged.

Duncan and his mother have just moved across the country to Drilling Falls, Pennsylvania to live with Aunt Djuna.  Just as he is settling into his new school,  Duncan discovers that he has a secret power: his left hand is able to read the words and pictures on a page just by moving his fingers across them.  When school bully and hardcore Scrabble player Ken Colter discovers this ability, he convinces Duncan that he could be amazing at Scrabble.  His magic fingertips would allow him to choose whatever word tiles he wanted from the tile bag.  Ken and Duncan are soon on their way to the national Scrabble tournament in Yakaminee, Florida.  But Duncan is unsure whether he wants to go, and if he does, will he be able to put up with Ken’s bullying and use his super power to cheat their way to the finals?

This book has other interesting characters that all meet at the Scrabble tournament.  Wolitzer deftly juggles these different storylines while managing to keep the plot moving forward.  I especially liked how the author’s obvious love of words and the game of Scrabble came through.  Readers will appreciate some of the clever wordplays.  Who knew, for instance, that MARASCHINO is an anagram of HARMONICAS?

Themes explored in this book include bullying, missing fathers, discovering your talents, and first crushes.  I definitely recommend this book to readers ages 10 and above.

294 pages.  Published 2011.

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