In YA Book Reviews on November 24, 2013 at 4:03 am


by VinceVawter

Coming-of-age Novel/©2013/246 pages/Recommended for 6th grade and up

Publisher’s Blurb (Amazon):

For fans of To Kill a Mockingbird, The King’s Speech, and The Help. A boy who stutters comes-of-age in the segregated South, during the summer that changes his life.

An 11-year-old boy living in Memphis in 1959 throws the meanest fastball in town, but talking is a whole different ball game. He can barely say a word without stuttering, not even his own name. So when he takes over his best friend’s paper route for the month of July, he knows he’ll be forced to communicate with the different customers, including a housewife who drinks too much and a retired merchant marine who seems to know just about everything.

The paper route poses challenges, but it’s a run-in with the neighborhood junkman, a bully and thief, that stirs up real trouble–and puts the boy’s life, as well as that of his family’s devoted housekeeper, in danger.

My Thoughts:

One reviewer summed up my thoughts exactly with this comment: “An unforgettable boy and his unforgettable story.” I loved everything about it – the main character (you don’t learn his name until the very end – just one of the many memorable moments in the book), the plot, the setting, the multiple themes and life lessons, and the writing. This first-time author nailed it from start to finish. The 1959 Memphis setting is well drawn with interesting and significant details.  I appreciated that many of the central characters are adults, unusual in a book for young people, and they are complex and well developed. The portrayal of the narrator’s stutter is particularly skillful, providing readers with a real sense of the frustrations, impact and multiple issues involved. The reason the author was able to achieve this becomes clear when you read the author’s note at the end where he shares that this story is more memoir than fiction. I also fully appreciated the author including incidents in the story that highlight and emphasize the power of words, writing, and reading. The narrator begins the story explaining why he is typing it all out, “I trust words on paper a lot more than words in the air.”  I loved how Mr. Spiro, one of my favorite of the central characters, answered the boy’s question about how he could be smart like him by showing him his house full of books – thousands of books. And I loved their discussion about poetry when the boy shared a poem he had written with the older man. Another memorable moment. The author just kept them coming, one right after another. Definitely, an unforgettable book, right up there with To Kill a Mockingbird, The King’s Speech, and The Help exactly as promised.

My Rating: 5/5


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