Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Book Review: Paperboy by Vince Vawter

Paperboy, by Vince Vawter
2013, 240p, Middle-grade Fiction
My rating=3.5 Stars
Source: Received a copy from the publisher for an honest review

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.

This book takes place in Memphis during the summer of 1959. Victor Vollmer is 11 years old. Miss Nellis Avent, who he calls Mam, has lived with his family and taken care of him since he was 5 years old. She also refers to him as Little Man, and we actually don't know his name throughout most of the book. His best friend is Art, who he has nicknamed Rat. We learn early on that Victor has a stuttering problem so he gives people nicknames since some letters are more difficult to sound out than others. 

Rat leaves for a month and has asked Victor to take over his paper route. He agrees and knows that the throwing will be easy but collecting the money every Friday afternoon won't be and has his stomach tied in knots, but he's determined to do it.

It was interesting reading about Victor's stuttering and how that affected him. He got to know the different people on Art's paper route and he changed his opinion on some of them as he got to know them better. It took a while to get to the part about his relationship with the neighborhood junkman, Ara T. Ara T is a bit scary and is generally left alone but Victor has his reasons for getting involved with him.

I read this with my children and we all enjoyed it. They learned that even though Victor outwardly stuttered, he still had so much going on in his head and was just a regular boy. It was fun to discuss with them the days when newspapers were thrown by young boys in the afternoons, typewriters were used and there were no cell phones.

I did enjoy this book but I'm glad I read it with my children so I could do some editing. There is violence and swearing, including use of the "b" word a few times near the beginning. He also has a weird relationship with an older woman who drinks a lot and I wasn't sure where that was going to go. A good coming-of-age story with some content to be aware of!

About the Author

Retired after 40 years in newspapers. Live on a small farm in Tennessee with my wife and two dogs. Debut novel, PAPERBOY, will be published May 2013 by Random House. Lived 65 years to discover that you can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need. Thank you, Mick Jagger.


Unknown said...

Sounds like an interesting book. Great review :)

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