Mr. 60% tells the story of Matt, a high school senior. His guidance counselor sees him going nowhere, the school’s administration can’t wait to get rid of him, and the kids at school only pal up to him as a means of scoring their next high. Matt puts in just enough effort at school to pass every class, but not excel. What no one knows about Matt is that he is putting in 100% to keep himself and his Uncle Jack alive and housed.
Smith has created compelling characters in Matt and Amanda. Their sadnesses and struggles are believable, as are the strategies they employ to try to fix things. This is an excellent read on its own, but the story also reminds the reader to look beyond appearances and think about what might make someone behave as they do. What circumstances are they dealing with that you cannot see? What could make someone do things they shouldn’t? And, is it possible for us to compassionately help one another?
Despite some bullying and drug references, this is a fairly tame story and would be suitable for young teens. Although, Smith’s depiction of the world of drug dealing and smuggling is a little too tame. Young readers may get the wrong impression regarding how dangerous it is to transport illegal drugs.
Highly recommended for high school and public libraries, teachers looking for a classroom novel, readers age 12 and up.