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The Boy Who Could Make Himself Disappear

by Kin Platt
176 pages, Contemporary
Reviewed by JTWinkle

A book intended for parents to discuss with children; otherwise perhaps too despairing.

Plot

Roger Baxter, just entering junior high school, afflicted with a speech impediment, lands with his mother in a penthouse apartment in New York. Roger explores the city, but his journey is a journey alone. His mother ignores him and occasionally demands that he parent her. Tormented by his speech impediment and desperately lonely, Roger slowly cracks under the desperation of his life. A limited sort of rescue comes at the end.

Morality

The over-riding message of the novel is that we have no idea what some people are going through. Roger is a decent young man given absolutely no direction. The book hints that more kindness from adults would have given him an entirely different life.

Spiritual Content

None

Violence

In one scene, a homeless man is dragged into a police car. There are a few shouting matches in the novel.

Drug and Alcohol Content

None

Sexual Content

None

Crude or Profane Language or Content

None

Conclusion

This book was considered classic YA reader fare in the 1970's. It is still in print, which is why I'm writing this review. It's a great look at the loneliness and isolation some children experience. Most of the book runs smoothly and is engrossing, but it loses some of its tight narrative towards the end. The authorial presence becomes overbearing in the last few pages. This is a good book to discuss with your children as you go through it together.

Fun Score: 3.5
Values Score: 4
Written for Age: 13+

Review Rating:

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