The Trouble with Mark Hopper: Elissa Brent Weissman
by Elissa Brent Weissman
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Hardcover: 240 pages
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile (July 9, 2009)
Source of book: Publisher
What to expect: Mistaken identity, Middle Grade, Family
The premise of this book is simple, yet, ingenious: mistaken identity. There are two kids with the same name that go to the same school and both have an older sister with the same name. However, they couldn’t be more different. One Mark Geoffrey Hopper is a conceited, unfriendly straight-A student. The other Mark Geoffrey Hopper is an average student, but has a heart of gold. The problems that occur because their school has only correctly registered one of the boys are both infuriating and funny. Eventually the school irons out the complications and a teacher pairs the boys as study partners, forcing two very different personalities to work together. When the not-so-nice Mark realizes that he could use some of the other Mark’s talents to win the Mastermind tournament—a tournament, that if he wins, he believes will bring his dad back to his family—he begins to manipulate and use his study partner.
After the initial onslaught of getting used to which Mark the author is describing in the beginning pages, there are many aspects of this story that I really enjoy: I like that it shows two heads can work better than one. In life, there are all kinds of personalities and families, and in each personality and family there is a light that shines. Every person has a special talent, they just need to discover it.
Elissa Weissman has written a wonderfully thought-through novel that shows us that friendship can be made, even between the most unlikely characters.