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The Silent Boy

Review

The Silent Boy

It is the turn of the century and Katy Thatcher is slowly but surely growing up. She tells us how simple her life used to be when she was little. There were birthday parties and games with her friends, parents who loved her and the innocence of early childhood.

Then things start to change. Katy discovers she is going to have a little brother or sister. A young country girl named Peggy is hired to help out around the house and Katy meets Peggy's brother, Jacob. Jacob is what the locals call "touched". He is a silent, odd boy who is mentally backward. Though he does not speak or interact with people much, Jacob has a wonderful way with animals. Dogs, cats, horses and sheep all trust and respond to him. Katy realizes that Jacob is a special, kind boy and she befriends him.

Little by little, Katy learns about Peggy and her family. Peggy's sister Nellie is the hired help next door, a pretty, bouncy girl who dreams of being in the movies and becoming a glamorous star. She wants to get away from farm life and her family. We 'watch' as Katy discovers that there is sadness and disappointment in the lives of those around her that she cannot quite fully understand.

In the background of this remarkable tale is the image of a place that Lowry presents at the very beginning of the book. This is the "Asylum," a forbidding place on the outskirts of town where those who are mentally ill go. We somehow know that the asylum will play a part in Katy's story, but it is only at the end that we find out how. There is a consistent sense of foreboding that sweeps us on until we get to the stunning conclusion of Katy's story.

Beautifully written with a deep understanding of the world at the turn of the century, Lois Lowry has yet again produced an exceptional book. Black and white photographs at the beginning of each chapter give us images of the people and places she writes about. We are pulled into Katy Thatcher's world, carried onward through time and intimately sharing her adventures.

Reviewed by Marya Jansen-Gruber on April 28, 2003

The Silent Boy
by Lois Lowry

  • Publication Date: April 28, 2003
  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
  • ISBN-10: 0618282319
  • ISBN-13: 9780618282319