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The Silent Boy

3.72  ·  Rating Details ·  4,638 Ratings  ·  552 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 CD, 0 pages
Published March 24th 2009 by Listening Library (Audio) (first published January 1st 2003)
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Community Reviews

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Jul 04, 2016 Madelyn rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 04, 2007 Brynn rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 22, 2012 kari rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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
Aug 20, 2015 Alexis rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Melissa Mahle
Feb 06, 2013 Melissa Mahle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya
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
Sep 23, 2013 Jada rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"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
Aug 29, 2013 Mitchell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 28, 2016 Amy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015-challenges
Few books have moved me in such a peculiar way as this book has.  I try to analyze what I'm feeling,  try to put it into words.  I feel a deep, profound but satisfied sadness. Somehow, I feel also, mixed with these emotions, peace.  How can I feel all of this together?  I truly don't understand it.  This authors ability to move and change me never ceases to amaze me.  There are some characters in this story whose choices tear at my heart strings and  cause a deep ache in my soul.  They affect ma ...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
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
May 16, 2014 Toni Miranda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
(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
May 19, 2015 Miranda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Personal Response:

This book was very interesting. The book made me wonder more about early 1900’s. The book wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.


Katy Thatcher was six and was having her birthday party. One fall day in September of 1910 Katty and her father went to the country to get their new hired girl, Peggy. Peggy Stoltz grew up on a farm. Peggy had a brother named Jacob Stoltz. He was thirteen years old and was touched. The Thatcher’s neighbors were the Bishops. The Bishops also had
Jun 01, 2016 Issac rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Personal Response- The Silent Boy is a normal, relaxing book until the ending. It is written in the perspective of a young girl. She was always really curious about certain things and could not wrap her head around some concepts. The book is good to see a different viewpoint on a traumatic event. The book wasn’t very exciting until the end. Everything happened so quickly. Overall, the book was easy to follow and enjoyable.

Plot- Katy was a young girl who was born into a rich family. She was in se
Nathan Togstad
Personal response: The Silent Boy is a calm book until the ending. It is written in the perspective of a young girl. She was curious about several things and couldn’t wrap her head around some concepts. The book is good to see a different viewpoint on a traumatic event. The book was not very exciting until the end. All the action happened quickly and stopped suddenly. There was no real build up to the ending. It went from a flat line to a spike. Overall, the book was easy and enjoyable to read. ...more
Aj Sterkel
Aug 26, 2015 Aj Sterkel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: middle-grade
One of the reasons that I hated reading as a child was because the books that I had access to were cutesy. They didn’t deal with real-life issues. I think I would have loved this book when I was a preteen. It’s definitely a mature and realistic middlegrade novel.

The Silent Boy is a historical fiction story set in the early 1900s. Nine-year-old Katy befriends a teenager, Jacob, who is unable to speak, make eye contact, or attend school. Everyone assumes that Jacob is stupid, but Katy knows that h
Brandon Gomez
Sep 28, 2015 Brandon Gomez rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book made me taught me a very important life lesion that most books will not teach you, Im glad that I learned this young ''Be with who you want to be with.'' ***SPOILER ALERT***I thought it was sad because in the end Jacob was trying to take the baby with him on a journey but the baby was just born so it couldn't survive the journey and the baby died after that and then Jacob had to go to an Asylum for a couple of years. In this realistic fiction book its about a little girl who sees a boy ...more
Mar 11, 2016 melanie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Father?" I asked. "Is he an imbecile? Is that what it is, to be touched in the head?"

"I wouldn't call Jacob that," Father said firmly, "because an imbecile means having no brains. And Jacob, he's different, all right, but he knows how to go to what he loves, and how to stay near it. That takes brains, I'd say.

This book is really good. It's based in the early twentieth century where a young girl named Katy befriends a boy named Jacob. Jacob is kind of a mute but if he speaks he speaks in motion
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
Oct 27, 2011 Tamara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Leon Lee
Jun 23, 2014 Leon Lee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 11, 2013 Angela rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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 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
Lisa Mason
Dec 04, 2008 Lisa Mason rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
May 23, 2011 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 05, 2013 Charli Murphy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Love this story! Tender and revealing of the class differences in the turn of the century.
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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...

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