Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Silent Boy” as Want to Read:
The Silent Boy
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Silent Boy

3.7 of 5 stars 3.70  ·  rating details  ·  3,700 ratings  ·  465 reviews
Precocious Katy Thatcher comes to realize what a gentle, silent boy did for his family. He meant to help, not harm. It didn't turn out that way.
"The author balances humor and generosity with the obstacles and injustice of Katy's world to depict a complete picture of the turn of the 20th century."--"Publishers Weekly," Starred "From the Paperback edition."
Audio Cassette, 0 pages
Published May 13th 2003 by Listening Library (first published January 1st 2003)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Silent Boy, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
This story takes place in 1910-1911 and the sights and sounds are wonderfully crafted. It is told through the eyes of Katy, a young girl who sometimes accompanies her father, the local doctor, on house calls. You experience what it would be like to ride in a buggy on a cold day. Katy gets glimpses into lifestyles very different from her own and makes a gentle friendship with boy a few years older than she is, Jacob, who is developmentally disabled. The subject is handled very well for the times ...more
Ugh, this was such paint by numbers historical fiction. Little girl ahead of her time (She wants to be a doctor like her daddy!) + vaguely quaint descriptions of daily life (Time to harness the horses and hang the laundry!) + awkwardly inserted Important Historical Events (The Triangle Shirtwaist fire! The first car in town!) + Special Lessons (Guess where babies come from! The hired girl's brother is "touched!"). It has that vacuous invented middle class sense of nostalgia we associate with the ...more
While this book was beautiful, as well as being a useful look at autism before we began to understand it, I think it is completely inappropriate for the age range for whom it was written. Reviews suggest grades 5-8. The serious subject matter, references to sex and a resulting pregnancy, and a very horrific ending make this book only appropriate for a YA audience. That audience must also be comfortable with a dark tale that has no real resolution. In general, I found this book too gloomy to be e ...more
Linda Lipko
He was different from others. Jacob Stolz walked head down, large feet shuffling along the dirt roads. He did not talk, but when engaged, made noises to imitate his surroundings. The sound of the great gristmill grindstone as it crushed the grain was expressed as shooda, shooda, shooda. The marbles as they hit each other were click, click, click. "Touched" is what people said about Jacob. Pointing to their heads, they said he was "touched." Representing protection from the outside world, his fir ...more
"My mother says 'touched by the Lord,' and I think it's true."(page 73) Jacob Stoltz is a boy who, although nowadays people would call him "autistic" or "mental," has a way with animals of all sorts. He roams around all day, and he tends to the animals on his family's farm. He always looks out for the animals and tries to take care of them. For example, there was a female dog who died giving birth to a litter of puppies, and all of them died but the one Jacob saved. He fed it cow's milk every da ...more
Melissa Mahle
I originally thought that The Silent Boy was a mid-grade novel. The protagonists, Katy, tells the story about her childhood, when she was 8 through 10 years old. It is a lyrical story, as Lowry expertly does, set during the pre-war years of 1910 and 1911. The "silent boy" is the brother of Katy's family maid. The story is very powerful in creating the relationship between Katy and Jacob, given that Jacob is "touched" and cannot speak. Despite their lack of dialogue, and never getting into Jacob' ...more
I was kind of disturbed by this tale. It is told by Katy, a young girl at the turn of the century, about a boy named Jacob, the titular “silent” boy. He is what modern folks would refer to as mentally challenged, speaking no words but able to accurately replicate the sounds he hears, such as a grindstone in motion or a horse’s whinny. This is not a light read, and may be one that haunts me for quite a while. I can’t really say why without giving away the ending, but if you’ve read it, you probab ...more
Toni Miranda
This book made me think a lot about the way we used to treat mental illness and people with disabilities. It is sad that families had no resources or help in caring for a child with special needs. Often their only option was to lock them away in an asylum. I can't imagine as a parent having to do that. There was so much fear and misunderstanding. People often thought that disabilities were "contagious" or that the parent's had done something "wrong" and were being punished. I'm not sure all of t ...more
Nancy O'Toole
The Silent Boy is a story about a unique relationship between Katy Thatcher, a young girl with dreams of becoming a doctor like her father, and Jacob, a special needs boy that cannot speak but has a close connection with animals. When Jacob unknowingly does something unforgivable, only Katy can understand why. The Silent Boy is a work of historical fiction taking place in the early 1900s. The book features a photograph at the beginning of each section, which does a great job of future immersing ...more
(review originally posted on my livejournal account:

Why I Read It: Waayyy back in grade 11(5-6 years ago), I read Lowry's The Giver and fell absolutely in LOVE with it. Since then, I've only read her other Newberry Award winner Number the Stars (which I also enjoyed, but not with the fervor that I loved The Giver). Since then, I have been interested in reading more of her work, but I was convinced that nothing would ever impress me as much as The Giver s
While Lois Lowry has been my favorite author with her creativity and story telling skills, this book left me disappointed. The story is about a young girl and her relationship with a special needs boy by the name of Jacob. The boy is gentle with a love for animals and a love to explore. However, his innocence, compassion and independence put him in the wrong place at the wrong time and cost him an enormous price. His story is explained through the eyes of the protagonist, Katy, as she develops a ...more
This great book was written by Lois Lowry. The writer of the book, Lois Lowry, uses a very easy language to understand. "The Silent Boy" is written in a diary format, and has tiny pictures of its' characters.
This story was told by Katy Thatcher, an old woman which lived in 1987. In the book she tells the reader about the critical period in her life. Katy's dad, who is a rich doctor, gets a maid once his wife (Katy's mom) gets pregnant. This maid Peggy, has a brother who is about five years yo
If you have ever been to the early 1900's you could probably relate to this book. This fiction novel by Lois Lowry was made for people somewhere around the ages of twelve to eighteen. This story has many speed bumps as your racing through it. Every time you start to get the picture they throw another major event or conflict at you. When you first begin the book you feel like it will just be a boring historical book and then you meet the characters, and it pulls you in.

A hardworking farm family r
This is a short but beautifully written book that tells so much in so few pages. Black and white photos at the beginning of each chapter will give you a glimpse of how children appeared in the early 1900s. While considered to contain "quaint" passages by some, Lowry uses phrases contained in everyday language -- you didn't "throw a load in" as we are apt to say today -- laundry took the better part of the morning to accomplish and had to be soaked and washed and hung out to dry...a real feat in ...more
I found this book among Lowry's others in the Juvenile section at the library during my quest to read more Lois Lowry (after reading and enjoying all four books in The Giver series and Number the Stars). Not sure I'd want my kids to pick this one up, though. I really enjoyed the book, but there was definitely a "dark" tale -- some serious issues and sadness. Lowry does a good job of keeping it at a level that doesn't get too detailed -- so kids could potentially read this and not "get" the serio ...more
Allie Randall
Genre/Category: mental illness/family/loss of innocence
Read for "oral author report: Lowry"

Summary: Katy Thatcher grows up in a small town hoping to be a doctor like her father. On a trip to pick up the "hired girl," Katy meets and befriends Jacob, a boy with a mental illness. As Katy goes through the year, she meets Jacob in a variety of situations and she begins to understand his actions and reasons for doing certain things. Katy also tries to make sense of some sexual images she comes across
Jul 14, 2014 Relyn rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of YA historical fiction
Recommended to Relyn by: Lois Lowry
Shelves: audiobooks
Lois Lowry can tell a tale, no doubt about it. And, this one first had me laughing and reminiscing about a time I never actually knew. Later, it made me sad as I listened, so sad. Poor Jacob. Poor Stoltz family.

What Lowry excels at is creating a believable, likable narrator. I loved Katie Thatcher. Though, honestly, she was probably too reminiscent of Scout. There can only ever be one Scout, you know. This book was poignant and tender,if a bit predictable. As I think of it, I wonder if my ratin
Jesycca Cousineau
An interesting perspective of autism in the early twentieth century.

Katy, who dreams of becoming a doctor like her father, meets this strange mute boy who has his own form of communication. Although everyone seems a little afraid of him, Katy looks past his limitations and form beautiful friendship with him and his family. As they develop an understanding with one another, a tragedy strikes that effects Jacob and Katy forever.

While I love Lois Lowry's books (most particularly The Giver), I felt
Katy is an ambitious girl growing up in the early 1900’s. During this time Katy comes to know Jacob, a boy who is “touched”, and never speaks. Over time Katy comes to discover the joys of being friends with Jacob, but also experiences some of the difficulties that come with knowing him.

I found this book a very enjoyable read. It is a little more on a serious side for Lowry and contains some more adult themes. However, I do not think that it is inappropriate for young adults. I enjoyed reading ab
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Leon Lee
This was the second book I read by Lois Lowry, and I really enjoyed it. I liked the unique way of how Jacob and Katy communicated, and unlike other readers, I did not think it was "gloomy" or "dark" at all. Katy always seemed happy and optimistic, and Jacob didn't seem all that moody most of the time, either. The only part that was dark or gloomy was at the very end, when Jacob kills the infant and gets sent to the Asylum. Yes, it is a little age inappropriate with pregnancy and murder and thing ...more
Mrs. Hannis
This was such an engaging read that I had a hard time putting it down, finishing it in an afternoon. Lois Lowry does not disappoint in this work of fiction. The photographs she uses at the beginning of each chapter foreshadow the chapter and are an interesting way to weave primary sources into a novel. I was taken by Kathryn's interest in Jacob and her compassion for someone so different than her. I would highly recommend this book.
Esther Kim
This book was okay, but I felt the speed of story was too slow. The story was mostly too calm, and I was kind of disappointed that there wasn't a lot of information about the main character, 'Silent Boy'. Moreover, the climax didn't really feel like the climax. Besides these, I could've make some connection with the main character and this aspect made me feel the book okay-ish.
A gently thoughtful story that will get your empathetic motors running, though the denouement feels rather abrupt considering how it takes almost the entire length of the book to get to the seemingly anti-climactic destination. The construction of each chapter around a real B&W photos adds a clever touch of sentimentality and nostalgia, an extra layer of possibility.
Laura Brady
I really enjoyed this quick read (less than 200 pages). However, I would have like to have more. I couldn't help but want to hit someone with how Jacob was treated, but I do understand that is was "typical" for him to be treated in the manner he was. I loved Jacob's warm heart and his love of animals. The pictures in the books were amazing.
Charli Murphy
This was an interesting perspective on people with special needs. Katie doens't have any previous knowledge of "touched" people and so she treats Jackob the same way she treats every one else. I also really like that Katie tries to stand up for Jackob at the end of the book, and that she is the only one who truely understands him.
Nov 13, 2014 Lorna rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Older readers
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lisa Mason
I read this with Kaitlyn and she loved it, even though it was a little sad. The Silent Boy is a boy with mental illness and the author was good about describing mental illness in a way a young child could understand. The characters were engaging and Kaitlyn had some good laughs. Overall, a good story.
Karen Marcellus
As a book about understanding those with illnesses, this one really captured how someone could actually understand a person without ever having them speak to you. Lowry did a good job of depicting the time period and the reactions of people to "silent" people.
This was ok, but not Ms. Lowry's best work by far as it is more predictable and less prolific than her other works.

A good read for those who enjoy classic young girl coming-of-age stories such as Girl in the Limberlost, Anne of Green Gables, and Little Women.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The River Between Us
  • Alphabet of Dreams
  • Witness
  • Belle Teale
  • The Porcupine Year
  • Rodzina
  • Greater Than Angels
  • Willow Run
  • A Maze Me: Poems for Girls
  • Father's Arcane Daughter
  • Journey
  • Crispin: The End of Time (Crispin, #3)
  • Saladin: Noble Prince of Islam
  • Red Moon at Sharpsburg
  • Lord of the Nutcracker Men
  • Zia (Island of the Blue Dolphins, #2)
  • The Cookcamp
  • Counting on Grace
Taken from Lowry's website:
"I’ve always felt that I was fortunate to have been born the middle child of three. My older sister, Helen, was very much like our mother: gentle, family-oriented, eager to please. Little brother Jon was the only boy and had interests that he shared with Dad; together they were always working on electric trains and erector sets; and later, when Jon was older, they always
More about Lois Lowry...
The Giver (The Giver, #1) Number the Stars Gathering Blue (The Giver, #2) Messenger (The Giver, #3) Son (The Giver Quartet, #4)

Share This Book