Words in the air blow away as soon as you say them, but words on paper last forever.
Rachel’s under the weather, and I’m under the gun. We’re quite a pair. But we’re mindful of you lovers of print. I promise. I’ll be honest, when I started reading Paperboy to my boys I may have been a tiny bit skeptical. Amazon bragged, “This Newberry Honor is perfect for fans of To Kill a Mockingbird, The King’s Speech, and The Help.” If that doesn’t qualify as the trifecta of awesome, I’m not sure what does. Needless to say, expectations were high. Vince Vawter’s Paperboy did not disappoint.
Like Wonder, this endearing read shows us a perceptive protagonist with an obvious disability. “Little man” is an eleven-year-old boy who, like Nolan Ryan, can throw some good hard cheese. He feels normal on the mound because he doesn’t have to speak. For a moment, he finds relief from the frustrations of an impossible stutter. Talking horrifies him. He can’t even utter his own name, Victor, cleanly.
It’s 1959. Little man lives in the segregated South. When asked to take his best friend’s paper route for a month, he is forced out of his world of near isolation. Able-armed Victor makes life-changing discoveries as he interfaces with memorable customers. He taught my boys and me something about bravery, resilience, and hope. And most of all, he gave us an important lesson on love. I may have felt verklempt when I read what little man says he learned in school at the close of the book: “It’s more important what I say than how I say it, and my soul doesn’t stutter.”