There’s a Boy in the Girls’ Bathroom by Louis Sachar: B+

From the back cover:
“Nothing ever hurts me,” he told her. “I’ve broken every table in the house,” he declared. “The chairs, too. Call my mother if you don’t believe me.”

“I believe you,” said Carla. “Why shouldn’t I?”

“You should.”

She did, too. For the rest of the meeting, no matter what he told her, she believed him. When he told her that his parents only fed him dog food, she asked him how it tasted.

And so went the first meeting between Bradley Chalkers, the terror of Red Hill School, and Carla, the school’s new counselor. Bradley’s reputation was well-earned. He started fights with girls, told scores of lies, and sat on the birthday cake at the last party he’d been invited to. But Carla is not like anyone he’s ever met before. Slowly, she helps him see the way to make friends with the other kids and with himself.

I’m not sure I’ve ever read a book with a more irritating protagonist. Thankfully, it doesn’t take too long for sessions with the school counselor to have a positive impact on Bradley’s behavior, and he becomes far more tolerable, even endearing.

This book was recommended by Connie as having similarities to Small Steps, and I see what she meant. Both main characters have their well-meaning actions misinterpreted by others, though in different circumstances. Where Theodore is a nice guy who inadvertently engenders fear because he’s also a big black guy, Bradley is trying to change his image after having been positively insufferable for what seems to’ve been several years, at least.

What I like about Sachar’s writing is that he doesn’t insult the reader’s intelligence by over-explaining things. Here’s one example: In the beginning, Bradley boasts about how easy it is to beat up a girl, claiming you only have to hit them once, then they’ll run home crying. So, what happens when Bradley picks a fight with a girl? She hits him once, and he runs home crying. Sachar never explicitly points this out, but trusts his audience to understand.

Overall, though the book had some frustrating moments, it was cute and funny, and I’d definitely recommend it for any clever kids one happens to know.

Did you enjoy this article? Consider supporting us.


  1. I read it when I was a lot younger, but I sort of do remember Bradley being annoying. I think it stuck with me awhile after I read it because I felt so terrible for the main character, even though in retrospect he brought almost everything on himself, if I remember right. Also, we went and saw a play of this book performed right after I read it, which probably helped it stick in my memory too.

  2. Most of his problems were his own doing, yeah. Hence my reference to “frustrating moments.” 🙂

Speak Your Mind