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It's 1920 in Bozeman Alabama, and the Corbin family has just been blessed with a baby boy named Petey in a hospital. However, he looks completely different from other ordinary babies. Because of this, the doctors misdiagnose him as an idiot and think he's severely feebleminded. But Petey has a severe case of cerebral palsy, a condition that's caused by brain damage and results in poor control and weakness of the muscles before, during, or briefly after birth. Two years later, the family sends him to the Insane Asylum in Warm Springs Montana because they can't care for him anymore. That's when his new life begins.

When he gets to the Insane Asylum, he gets put in the Infant's Ward. That's when his life looks like it's going to take a turn for the worst. The room is crowded, he isn't cared for properly by the nurses, and he's lonely because he has no friends. But then he starts to become really good friends with Esteban, a worker at the hospital. But that friendship doesn't last long because Esteban has to leave the hospital. When Petey is eleven years old he gets moved to the Men's Ward.

While living in the Men's Ward, Petey makes friends with the mice and a nine-year-old boy named Calvin, who's mildly retarded and has severe club feet. They start to talk and do everything together. Petey also makes friends with Joe, Cassie, and Owen, three of the workers at the hospital. Unfortunately, they all had to leave the hospital too. After living at the hospital for a long time, Calvin and Petey get transferred to different nursing homes.

Meanwhile, in another part of the story, Trevor Lodd has just moved to Bozeman Montana because his parents want to get better jobs, and he doesn't think it's fair at all. It doesn't get any better when he's walking home from school one day, and sees three neighborhood bullies throwing snowballs at Petey who now lives at the Bozeman Nursing Home. After Trevor chases them off, he starts to become really good friends with Petey. He's determined to make Petey's life better by getting him a new wheelchair because the one he uses is old and is falling apart, and by finding Petey's old friend Calvin. Will he be able to find Calvin? Will he get him a new wheelchair? Will they still be friends?

I liked this book because it reminded me that even though I have cerebral palsy myself and can't do some of the things that normal people can do, I can still make a lot of friends, have a happy, normal, and productive life, and do a lot of other things by myself. How would you have felt if you were Petey or one of his friends? If you like to read books about amazing people who have disabilities, then read Petey and find out what happens to Petey and his friends!

Reviewed by Ashley Hartlaub on April 3, 2000

by Ben Mikaelsen

  • Publication Date: April 3, 2000
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Hyperion
  • ISBN-10: 0786813369
  • ISBN-13: 9780786813360