Monday, May 12, 2014

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: Paperboy

I saw this book mentioned in various places and decided it was finally time for me to read it. I found a copy online through my public library.

Today’s Pick: Paperboy

by Vince Vawter

Delacorte Press, 2013

From Random House:

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.

My Take:

I’m not surprised that this book was a Newbery Honor book, because it really stood out from other middle grade novels I’ve read. The writing style and voice were unique and the characters came to life with all the realistic details of the late 1950’s.

From a writer’s perspective, the opening line really drew me in. It’s a great one to think about if you are working on getting yours right. This story also has a very distinctive voice for the first person narrator. It’s worth studying to see how word choice and phrasing help to create his voice. The narrator tells us in chapter 1 that he hates commas and leaves them out of his typing whenever he can, so that contributes to the distinctive writing style.

Opening Line:

“I’m typing about the stabbing for a good reason. I can’t talk.”


“For some reason saying my name was the hardest thing of all for me to do.”

“Streets are like friends that I don’t have to talk to.”

“All the grown-ups around me were making things hard for me all at once like they had gotten together and planned it.”

Other Info:

Vince Vawter is a retired newspaper editor who lives on a farm in Louisville, Tenn.

This is his first published children’s book.

I was so interested to read the author’s note in the back of the book that explains how Vince has a stutter and how he learned to overcome it. No wonder the book and main character seemed so realistic!

In an interview with Vince Vawter at RandomActsofReading, he gives this advice to writers: “Don’t worry about inspiration. You will write when you just can’t stand it anymore.”

For more, visit Vince Vawter’s website.

You can find more Marvelous Middle Grade Monday books by checking out Shannon Messenger’s blog! Shannon is the founder of Marvelous Middle Grade Monday and the author of the middle grade novels, Keeper of the Lost Cities and Exile (Keeper of the Lost Cities #2).


  1. Thanks for featuring this one. I have wanted to read it since it came out. All I needed was a little nudge to go out and find it this week.

  2. Ooh, this does sound good. Thanks for shaaring it.

  3. This book has been on my list to read as well~ I'm so glad you liked it!

  4. This one's been on my TBR list too. What an eye-opening first line! Also love that quote about streets being like friends he doesn't have to talk to. That's a profound thought.

  5. You are right about that first line. It made a bee line for my heart. Wow!
    I'm adding the book to my tbr list. Thanks for the feature.


  6. I adored this one. I'd never read about stuttering from the main character's perspective in such a manner as this. And such a compelling story along with that unique perspective.

  7. Hey...thanks for this review! Was not familiar with this one. Sounds great and will be getting it. Thanks again.

  8. Oh, thanks for featuring this. I thought this sounded really interesting when I heard it won the Newberry Honor. It's sounds unique--and I was drawn in by that first line as well.

  9. I had never heard about it till it won an honor, but I think it's different and interesting.


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