Book Review: My Darling, My Hamburger

Many of us still read teen-oriented novels, from the foreign bestsellers of John Green and Veronica Roth to the local stories of HaveYouSeenThisGirl. There's more to that, however. We miss a lot from old young adult (YA) novels, those of which—unfortunately—can only be found (or better say unearth) luckily in secondhand bookstores.

There are many YA novels that I now consider classics (not only Tom Sawyer or Little Girls!), but for this review let's take an American author who was for 10 years a chemistry teacher—Paul Zindel. He writes so much about the realities of adolescence, starting with Confessions of A Teenage Baboon. He reveals more of those in My Darling, My Hamburger, a novel that is now around 44 years old.

The story centers around Maggie and her best friend Elizabeth (or Liz). Dennis and Sean, best friends as well, joins along with the two in a roller-coaster course each of them will ride on. They are all in the senior year, thus they are about to graduate; but they will find out that senior year won't just be the "end of high school" for them, but also a beginning, an unfolding of the real world.

As the story goes on, Sean dates Liz, and Dennis dates Maggie (thanks to the earlier couple). They begin to make choices for their own, as well as deal with the impulses and emotions they encounter, then see how much these choices will affect the future ahead.

My Darling looks at issues that the youth usually stumble upon, has to ponder and consider, and be knowledgeable of, such as courtship, meaning of life, and human sexuality.

The novel also poses the fears and tendencies that might be realized in the colorful and abstract painting of adolescence. It shows the complexities of teenage life, especially around a deep relationship at a stage as early as teenagehood. You, like I do, may not be that type of teenager, being engaged into a sort of "dating" or "boyfriend-girlfriend" thing; but we can learn a lot from this.

I admit, as I read this story, that it shows a lot of that romantic stuff—kiss here, kiss there, hang out here, hang out there—which I feel is too early for adolescence. But in continuing the story, the pictures become clearer and realer.

You may go into fantasy reading the romantic conquests of girls and boys in Wattpad fiction, but in "gems" like this you may capture some fantasy, but the reality will actually show up.

Until its wonderful end, it's worth reading and thinking about. The most notable I've learned from the book is this: you have a choice, and you have to be responsible for that, so make smart ones.

I just hope novels like this get republished. My Darling, My Hamburger is an example of the types of fiction present YA readers need to read, and maybe may find valuable.


  1. You should try "The Pigman" too. It's a pretty cool story. First time I read it, I instantly knew Zindel is a brilliant writer.

    1. I do hope to have that. I have to dig in secondhand bookstore boxes for that. In the meantime, there are a lot of books that are still left unread in my shelves.


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