The hero in this delightful book stutters. He calls his best friend “Rat” because he can’t pronounce “Art” properly. When our hero – his name is withheld until the very end – takes over Rat’s paper route for the month of July, his life changes forever.
From the opening sentences – “I’m typing about the stabbing for a good reason. I can’t talk” – we know excitement will follow. Our hero quickly masters the paper route and gradually overcomes his reluctance to speak, gaining confidence and self-awareness in the process. With only a few days remaining before Rat returns, a theft occurs and the pace accelerates as Paperboy and Mam search for the thief.
Vince Vawter unfolds the story slowly, pausing to make sure the characters come alive. There’s Mrs. Worthington, a sad but beautiful housewife; Mr. Spiro, who treats our hero like a person and not a stuttering fool; Ara T, a menacing presence who collects junk and steals; and Mam, the family’s housekeeper, whose devotion to her charge makes her seem like a mother. And, of course, the hero’s mother and father, who have kept another secret since their son was born.
Historical detail in this book is sparse, just enough for readers to know this is another time. The story also slows a bit towards the end, when it should be delivering more punch. And the characterization of the hero’s parents lacks depth. However, Vince Vawter masters the voice of an eleven-year-old boy, blending naiveté with growing insight into the world of adults. This author’s style will appeal to boys and girls alike.