Paperboy by Vince Vawter

National Stuttering Awareness Week is May 11-17, 2015


Vince Vawter, Author

Yearling, Imprint of Random House Children’s Books, Fiction, 2013

Winner: 2014 Newbery Honor Book

Themes: Stuttering, Newspaper carriers, Self-esteem, Race-relations, Family life

Suitable for Ages: 10-14

Book Jacket Synopsis: LITTLE MAN 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’s not exactly looking forward to interacting with the customers. But it’s the neighborhood junkman, a bully and thief, who stirs up real trouble in Little Man’s Life.

What I like about this book:

  • Finally, a realistic book written about an 11-year-old boy who struggles with stuttering! And, it is based on author Vince Vawter’s own experiences with stuttering as a child and adult in the 1950’s. It will be especially meaningful to anyone who has a stuttering problem. Every page reminds you of the day-to-day challenge for someone who stutters — it is exhausting.
  • The book opens with a great hook sentence: “I’m typing about the stabbing for a good reason. I can’t talk. Without stuttering.”  The reader is compelled to keep reading this first-person narrative because you know something big is going to happen. Typing is how the paperboy shares his story.
  • Paperboy is an unforgettable coming of age book, set in 1959, when Memphis, TN, is segregated. The plot is engaging. After the paperboy takes his friends paper route for a month, he meets many neighbors along his route (each with a story) that expose him to inequality, spousal abuse, racial tensions, and a bully junkman who steals his knife. He also meets an older gentleman who becomes his mentor.
  • All of the characters are memorable and well-developed. The paperboy is intelligent, clever, compassionate, observant, and courageous.  His growth is something readers will cheer!
  • The pacing of the story starts out like a lazy hot summer day and continues to build into an eruption of violent behavior at the end. I believe most 10-year-old kids can handle the chapters, because it is important to the story. The story is a page turner.
  • The ending reflects the paperboy’s summer journey and is satisfying. He stands up in his new 7th grade classroom and says his name, even though he stutters. Until the last page, the reader doesn’t know his name.
  • Stuttering is a top topic researched by visitors to my website, and sadly enough I only a few picture books and novels to share.
  • As other reviewers have noted, Paperboy is reminiscent of To Kill a Mockingbird. I tend to agree. This is a heartfelt story that will stay with you long after you close the book.

Vince Vawter, a native of Memphis, retired after a 40-year career in newspapers, most recently as the president and publisher of the Evansville Courier & Press in Indiana.  He lives with his wife in Louisville, TN, on a small farm in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. Paperboy is his debut novel. Visit Vince Vawter’s website.

Resources: Visit the Stuttering Foundation of America, The National Stuttering Association, and The Stuttering Home Page for information, stories written by kids who stutter, free resources, support groups, and summer camps. There are 3 million Americans who stutter, 68 million people worldwide.  It affects males four times more than females.  You will be surprised at the long list of famous people and celebrities who stuttered as children and teens.

About Patricia Tiltonhttps://childrensbooksheal.wordpress.comI want "Children's Books Heal" to be a resource for parents, grandparents, teachers and school counselors. My goal is to share books on a wide range of topics that have a healing impact on children who are facing challenges in their lives. If you are looking for good books on grief, autism, visual and hearing impairments, special needs, diversity, bullying, military families and social justice issues, you've come to the right place. I also share books that encourage art, imagination and creativity. I am always searching for those special gems to share with you. If you have a suggestion, please let me know.

25 thoughts on “Paperboy by Vince Vawter

  1. Exhausting is exactly the right word for stuttering. Listening to stuttering is exhausting, so I can’t imagine how exhausting it is from the other side. Sounds like an interesting take on the problem.


  2. This one came into my life exactly when I needed it. I read it aloud to my son (a stutterer) and he absolutely loved “taking over to do the stuttering parts.” It was very empowering, and gave us a chance to talk about some of the feelings he hadn’t yet been able to name. The power of a book!!


  3. I wish this book had been around when my dad was growing up. He had a horrible time getting over stuttering. Will add this one to my list. I have a feeling my son will enjoy this book. Great review, Pat!


  4. I can’t believe the title of this Newberry Honor book doesn’t even ring a bell with me but it sounds like an amazing book! I worked for a professor (who is now a dear friend) who also grew up around the 50s and stutters. He is Asian and grew up in Canada, so I’ll bet he could relate to many parts of this novel.


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