Customer Review

65 of 68 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This s... s... s... Book Drew Me In. Great Story., March 28, 2013
This review is from: Paperboy (Hardcover)
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Paperboy is a coming-of-age novel. It takes place in 1959 and focuses on a young boy with a huge problem.

He stutters.

And believe me, when you stutter, nothing else much matters. The majority of your being is focused on trying to be "normal."

Now, before you start throwing things at a virtual me because of my review title, I've had a stutter since I was in elementary school -- this was back in the late 1970s. One important technique that I used -- just like in Paperboy -- was to place a soft "hiss" before difficult words (I was more a "blocker" than a "stutterer"). Book, because of the hard B sound, would cause my mouth to freeze up (like a "closed fist", says the main character in Paperboy) and putting a soft "s" sound in front of it allowed me to force the word out. If the hiss didn't work, I'd often change the word entirely -- another technique often used by stutterers. For example, using the word "Story" instead of "Book." Story, after all, starts with a soft S sound. Much easier! (And much less panic provoking!)

Like Little Man (the main character's nickname in the book -- and nicknames are important because they often take the place of hard-to-pronounce real names), I was in speech therapy and learned many ways to compensate for my stutter, though if I was faced with reading out loud (darned teachers who loved round-Robin reading), giving speeches, or talking to people in general, I would often panic. Freeze up. And my speech problem would be all the more severe.

Reading this book was almost reading about my own life. No, I didn't play baseball or deliver papers, but I could relate to every single stuttering-related issue faced by Little Man. In fact, I was in speech therapy for years and taught exactly the same techniques in my non-fictional life. I understand the tricks he used and used all (yes, all) myself at one point. I understand the frustration at having people think I was "retarded" (his word... 1959 remember) or "stupid" because of how I spoke. I remember hating when poeple would finish sentences for me.

Although my experiences took place a decade-and-a-half after Paperboy, stutterers were treated the same. And techniques used to treat the issue were similar. Not much was known about stuttering at the time, and many thought I may have started because my first-grade teacher made me switch from being a lefty to a righty. Being left handed was not acceptable in her classroom, apparently. (In many classrooms at the time, honestly. Funny how time changes things, eh?)

In Paperboy, Little Man, through the task of delivering papers -- a small job for most, but an extremely difficult one for him -- meets a diverse group of persons in his neighborhood and learns much about himself and life in general. He becomes friends with a deaf boy, dialogues regularly with a scholarly older gentleman while sitting on a porch swing, and comes to understand why one housewife drinks all the time and flirts with him. His own family, including a black housekeeper who still sits in the back of the bus, provides him with just as much insight.

An excellent book. Highly recommended.
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Tracked by 2 customers

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Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: May 6, 2013 11:41:16 AM PDT
Eric K. says:
Excellent review! I picked up this book for the same reason you did, having stuttered ("blocked") a lot as a kid. It's rare to find a book that you can really relate to with a part of yourself that others just can't understand.

In reply to an earlier post on May 6, 2013 1:16:45 PM PDT
I'm glad you liked my review, Eric. Thanks! I hope you enjoyed the book as much as I did.

Posted on Jul 15, 2013 12:24:39 PM PDT
Ren says:
Is there anything that is questionable bout the book??? I'm a minor and this book sounded really really good, but I won't read it if it has anything questionable.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 15, 2013 8:07:08 PM PDT
Not that I remember, but it's been a while since I read it.

Posted on May 25, 2014 11:09:36 AM PDT
After reading this I know I need to read the book. I too stutter, used every trick in the book, and was an elementary school child in the 1950's. After all the therapy and all the problems my life has also been shaped by my experiences. Ernest Hemingway once wrote," The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places". I am a strong woman.
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