Paperboy by Vince Vawter
(borrowed from the Camden County Library System)
Paperboy takes place in 1959 Memphis. Our 11 year old protagonist (whose name we don't get until the very end of the book) has a severe stuttering problem. He has a speech therapist working with him and a family who is patient and tolerant and supportive of the boy. That doesn't make things any less difficult for him. He uses some tricks to ease the stuttering, but mostly has to either censor his speech to say as little as possible, as easily as possible, or write what he wants to say. On the one hand, I can't imagine just how difficult that would be. On the other hand, I think most people would be much better off if they had to really think about what they were going to say.
Paperboy is more autobiographical than fiction, but I'm not sure how much is artistic license and how much really happened. I find myself hoping that a great deal of the people here were real. Mr. Vawter was that little stuttering boy and he shares/creates a story about the summer of 1959. Here a reader gets to see racial tension and the beginnings of the civil rights movement, but just a little glimpse. It's a fact that's hard to ignore, was part of the landscape at the time and does drift into the story in places, but it's not the focus.
This is one stuttering boy's story of a very eventful summer. He learns a lot about himself, his friends and his family. He makes some new friends, rights some wrongs and finds the strength to get his message out.
Vawter has written a book that educates and entertains on many levels. Our paperboy struggles to communicate in ways most people can't imagine. There is mystery, intrigue, family drama and more in between the covers of this slim book. I read it in a day and enjoyed it immensely. I think middle grade readers would gain a lot from this book and enjoy the read in the process.