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Paperboy Paperback – December 23, 2014
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An Amazon Best Book of the Month, May 2013: Words don’t come easy for an 11-year-old boy coming of age in the segregated South of Vince Vawter’s moving novel, Paperboy. Spending the summer tending his best friend’s paper route leads to new discoveries, friendships, and danger as the lives behind the closed doors of neighbors, now his customers, are exposed for the first time. For a boy with an impossible stutter, this poses a whole new set of challenges to let his thoughts and feelings free. Paperboy is an impressive look at hope and bravery in the face of adversity and the fierce protection of love. --Seira Wilson --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
From School Library Journal
Gr 6-9-After an overthrown baseball busts his best friend's lip, 11-year-old Victor Vollmer takes over the boy's paper route. This is a particularly daunting task for the able-armed Victor, as he has a prominent stutter that embarrasses him and causes him to generally withdraw from the world. Through the paper route he meets a number of people, gains a much-needed sense of self and community, and has a life-threatening showdown with a local cart man. The story follows the boy's 1959 Memphis summer with a slow but satisfying pace that builds to a storm of violence. The first-person narrative is told in small, powerful block paragraphs without commas, which the stuttering narrator loathes. Vawter portrays a protagonist so true to a disability that one cannot help but empathize with the difficult world of a stutterer. Yet, Victor's story has much broader appeal as the boy begins to mature and redefine his relationship with his parents, think about his aspirations for the future, and explore his budding spirituality. The deliberate pacing and unique narration make Paperboy a memorable coming-of-age novel.-Devin Burritt, Wells Public Library, MEα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
1) The author doesn't use commas or quotation marks. It's not as bad as Cormac McCarthy in terms of a distracting lack of punctuation, but I had to go in and write in quotation marks in order for my 10 year old kid to not struggle with it. The lack of commas are fine, but I really hope later editions add quotation marks.
2) The concepts are "heavy", and I'm not sure kids will truly get them. Not the way adults do, at least. I personally don't find them "inappropriate" for kids 10 and up (not if they've been warned by their parents about pedophiles and know that substance abuse, racism, and domestic violence, etc happen...the local nightly news is really much more brutal than anything in this book, nevermind CNN...) but they're added to the plot in a way that I think just leaves kids going "Well, that's weird and wrong." And that's it.
3) The basic plot really is fairly predictable, and there's not a lot of action till the end. A lot of kids probably find it somewhat boring (mine did.)
4) On the plus side, the book is not "stupid" the way a lot of literature for kids is, and the kids act and think like real kids do. It doesn't insult the intelligence of younger readers, or have obnoxious "one liners".
1) It's good historical fiction and a believable snapshot into the segregated South of the late 50's, written from the perspective of a likable kid with an almost debilitating speech impediment. It's a sweet, uplifting, and interesting story.
2) As far as books that qualify as "literary fiction" go (and I think this does) it's one of the better ones, even though it's quite obviously written for children.
3) There are a lot of dysfunctional adults in this book, and seeing them through the eyes of a child is fascinating for an adult reader. The concept of seeing segregation through the eyes of a white kids is also fascinating, and when the author writes that this is more memoir than fiction, it's impossible to doubt. I feel genuinely wiser for having read this book.
Overall, it's a very good book, and I do recommend it for both kids and adults, in spite of my questions about how much kids can really take away from it. It is a lot like "To Kill a Mockingbird", but significantly better, in my opinion (although I must admit I'm not really the biggest fan of TKAM. Blasphemy, I know!)
The main character is an eleven-year-old boy who takes over his best friend's paper route while he goes to the farm for a few weeks in the summer of 1959 in Memphis. He narrates the story, much like the narrator in the movie "Stand By Me". He has an arm that can throw the meanest fastball in town, so he knows throwing the paper won't be a problem. But, as he begins his paper route, he realizes that for the next four Fridays, he will have to approach the people on his route to collect the money. He will have to speak to them and the problem with that is, he stutters. He can't even say his own name without passing out from holding his breath.
Through the paper route, we are introduced to other characters who turn out to be critical to the telling of the story. Mrs. Worthington's sad cries and beauty will forever haunt the boy. Mr. Spiro's wisdom, patience, and house full of books could be just enough to bring him through his stuttering. Ara T's looming presence and secret shed just might put him in danger. Finally, Mam, his family's black housekeeper, gets in trouble and he might be the only one who can save her. Lil' Man, as Mam calls him, will have to make a choice and confront one of his biggest fears over this hot Memphis summer.
Through this story, we see Lil' Man grow up and gain confidence in just four short weeks. We see how some adults ignore him and kids make fun of him. We also meet others who treat him like the great kid he is. We are privy to his thoughts and the words he wishes he could say, but instead stays silent. Beyond PAPERBOY being a coming-of-age story, it also reminds us that we can all overcome the things that scare us most.
PAPERBOY is great for kids in upper elementary as well as adults who grew up in the early 1960's. I know I will be sharing it with our boys who will be able to identify with Lil' Man and his fears, struggles, and frustrations. If teachers out there would like to share this with their classroom, there is an educator's guide available for download.