Paperboy had me at hello. I loved, loved, loved, loved, REALLY LOVED this one. Yes, I'm going to gush about how wonderful and just-right this one is.
Paperboy is set in Memphis, Tennessee, in July of 1959. The narrator is a young boy (11, I think?) who stutters. He doesn't want stuttering to define him. He doesn't think that's fair. He is good at many, many things, like baseball. He is GREAT at baseball. He is good at typing, at writing. He loves words. But his stutter keeps him from loving speaking words aloud. It keeps him nervous and awkward around new people or strangers, people he feels will judge him based on his stutter alone, who will assume that his inability to speak clearly means he's unable to THINK clearly too.
So. The month of July will prove challenging to him for he has agreed to take over his best friend's paper route. Oh, he's not worried about the delivering part. He knows he's got that handled. He's worried about Fridays, about the day when he'll have to go to the door and TALK to people and ask for the money owed. You might think, in some ways, that it would be the first week that would be the most difficult, and that, all other weeks would just be easy after that initial effort. That is only partly true. He does make a friend, a wonderful friend. And he does learn a few life lessons that help him grow up a bit and cope a bit. And, I suppose, you could say that his perspective expands a bit in that he sees that the world is full of people who have problems, who have issues; that every person is dealing with something, struggling with something.
I think I loved the narrator best. The book is in his own words, he's recounting these events. There is something in the narrator's life, a secret that he discovers one day, and it could potentially be big and disturbing--just as there are other events in the novel that could be BIG AND DISTURBING. But this one thing that he wrestles with on his own, quietly meditating on it perhaps, was handled so tenderly and lovingly that it just worked for me. It made a novel that I already LOVED, LOVED, LOVED that much more wow-worthy.
I also loved other characters in this novel. Characters that might have seemed minor, but, were anything but. Characters like Mam, Rat (Art), Mr. Spiro, and, to a certain extent his Dad.
© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews