The characters in this middle grade book are so wonderfully drawn its obvious the author is at the very top of his game. Schmidt was a Newberry Award Honor winner for this one. Doug is the new boy in town. Everyone thinks he’s a thug because of the actions of his father and brother. With the help of Lil Spicer, a popular girl from a prominent family, he is able to prove them wrong, endure an abusive father, and survive the return of his oldest brother scarred forever by a stint in Vietnam. Funny, charming — you can’t help but root for Doug.