Talk about taking me back to the days of hanging out in the barber shop and crackin’ on all the goofballs from the neighborhood that come in to get their hair cut (wait, that was a movie not my life). Jimmy gets himself into a bit of trouble that could land him in jail but he is “rescued” by a man named Duke who mentors youth by having them work at his barbershop. Jimmy and another guy, Kevin, are made to keep the place clean (even though it is almost always spotless) allowing them time to spend with Duke and the other guys that hang out at the neighborhood barbershop. People with problems come and go through the barbershop and their stories provide the jumping point for life’s lessons that Duke and his buddies pass on to the boys. Jimmy is forced to think about the way he views life because of the things that he sees and hears while working in the shop.
This book cracked me up from the very beginning. The three old guys in the shop are always clownin’ and teasing the boys but always in a way that challenges the way that they are living their lives. This book made me wish that I had a barbershop to hang out in with old wise guys, or wiseguys depending on who you are, that dish their knowledge about life in a way that kids can relate to. It’s reminded me a lot of my classroom, except I’m not really old and wouldn’t consider myself to have the same level of wisdom that age has brought these guys. Okay, so I guess I’m mostly the wiseguy part working toward the wise guy. I have read a number of the parts again and again because they still make me crack up. This was another one of those books that made me think about life while making me laugh. I think I’ll ask a couple of my students to take it for a test drive and see how the story rolls out for them. If you like to laugh and learn and long for your version of Barbershop then pull up a stool and a broom and take a seat. Or you could scrape some gum off the floor while you listen, which ever you prefer.