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What Jamie Saw

3.6  ·  Rating Details ·  1,295 Ratings  ·  128 Reviews
So begins one of the most compelling novels for young readers published in recent memory. It is a story of survival -- how nine-year-old Jamie, his mother, and his baby sister Nin leave an abusive situation, move to a small trailer in the woods, and slowly learn how to trust the people around them -- and each other.
Paperback, 128 pages
Published March 1st 1997 by Puffin (first published 1991)
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Sataira Absolutely... I have used it in an Elementary classroom, but be ready to discuss heavy topics like abuse. It's really relatable to many children.

Community Reviews

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Dec 16, 2008 Karla rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: childrens, ya
I honestly don't remember hearing about this book, which won a Newbery Honor Award in 1996. I don't like the cover art, so probably would have passed it up. I don't really know why I started reading it, but after the first sentence - When Jamie saw him throw the baby, saw Van throw the little baby, saw Van throw his baby sister Nin, then they moved. -I was hooked. This story tells of domestic violence and its aftermath from the point of view of 3rd grader, Jamie. Even though the ugly subject mat ...more
Linda Lipko
This 1996 Newbery Honor book was also a finalist for the National Book Award. It packs a punch in a mere 126 pages and it addresses a social issue that is compelling and necessary to discuss, ie the impact that adult decisions have upon their small children. Jamie's mother chose to subject her children in an unsafe situation. In the end, Jamie's mother also chose a path toward better decisions.

Short of fuse and long of violence, the boyfriend of Jamie's mother symbolizes the terror that children
Juliet Schenk
Jan 13, 2014 Juliet Schenk rated it liked it
What Jamie Saw is about a third-grade boy, Jamie, his mother, Patty, and his baby sister, Nin. The book begins immediately with Patty’s boyfriend, Van, getting annoyed by Nin’s crying and throwing her across the room. Luckily, Patty was there to catch the baby but Jamie saw the whole ordeal. Jamie’s mom packs up a bag and takes Jamie and Nin to her friend Earl’s house to get away from Van. After spending a few days with Earl, Earl takes Jamie’s family to go look at a trailer that Earl owned near ...more
Jan 07, 2017 Molly rated it liked it
Perfectly captures the confusion, raw terror, and tiny sliver of hope children experience in abusive situations.

And even if there's no storybook happy ending, you know that, eventually, with strength that suddenly hardens like concrete into an immovable wall, everything's going to be alright.
Eli Faber
Dec 12, 2011 Eli Faber rated it it was ok
If you crave action-packed adventure with a typical plot line, then this might not be the book for you. If you enjoy detailed descriptions that take you to a different time and place, you won’t find that in this book. In What Jamie Saw, Carolyn Coman tells a realistic story of one family’s struggles in the aftermath of domestic violence and trauma. From a third person point-of-view, we learn about the main character, nine year old Jamie, his abusive step-father, Van, his mother, Patty, and Jami ...more
Coman, C. (1995). What Jamie saw. Arden, North Carolina: Front Street.

Jamie is a nine-year-old boy living with his mother Patty and his half-sister Nin. One night, Jamie is startled awake by Nin’s crying and Patty’s boyfriend Van throwing Nin across the bedroom. Fortunately, Patty is there to catch Nin. Immediately following this abusive episode, Patty, Jamie, and Nin escape home to live with Patty’s childhood friend Earl. They stay with him for a couple of days, and in the meantime, they check
Laura Verret
He saw it happen. He saw Nin flying through the air, and he saw him mom catch her. He saw his mom catch Nin when their dad, Van, threw her. But why did he throw her? Jamie doesn’t know. He knew why he and Nin and their mom went out to the car and drove through the night to a place far, far away, though. It was to get away from Van, to get away from being thrown in the nighttime, to get to a safe place.

But can they start over? Or will they always see the image of Van before them, violent – threat
Dec 18, 2016 Nancy rated it liked it
It dealt with a sensitive subject in a poetic rather than graphic way. The plot seemed somewhat realistic...though the character of Van seemed rather subdued and regretful after the first scene. I hated that the mom smoked. I thought maybe the poor were being stereotyped as the people who experience domestic abuse. The book was alright, but I wouldn't recommend it as Newberry Honor worthy.
I'll have to say the cover shown here is more inviting than the one by Brock Cole, which was shown on the ha
Sep 22, 2016 Jamie rated it really liked it
What Jamie Saw
Magic? Jamie wakes about to his baby sister getting thrown across the hallway. Jamie is thinking why is Nin (his sister) getting thrown across the room. Just before he knew it Jamie, Nin, and his mother were in the freezing car, snugged up in blankets, on the move to his moms best friends house. They were never to see the house they were living in again. They made it too Earl’s house, without a problem, Earl lets them in. Jamie asks his mom, “what about school?” His mom tells him,
Oct 13, 2012 Lana rated it really liked it
What Jamie Saw is an amazingly detailed, realistic fiction novel, that I could not stop reading. This book partly takes place in a small town, partly in a man named Earl's house, and partly in a very small trailer in the middle of nowhere. There are four main characters in this wonderful book. Jamie, young boy that loves magic, and Patty, Jamie's mom, who goes through lots of tragic events. Two more main characters are Earl, Patty's great friend who takes care of Jamie and Patty for a while, an ...more
Alexis Flores
Dec 01, 2014 Alexis Flores rated it liked it
In this fiction story, you will see Jamie, the main character, live in uncertainty and fear. Overall I didn't really like this book because it didn't have no point in it.
This story takes place in Stark, New Hampshire in December. The setting will help the story later on in the book. Jamie, a little boy lives with his mom, baby sister Nin, and her father Van. Jamie and his mom, Patty saw Van throw Nin across her room. But Patty caught her with no injuries to Nin. After that happened, Patty decide
Demeyia Clark
Feb 07, 2015 Demeyia Clark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed-books
As a lover of books that bring attention to the touchy subjects that no one wants to talk about, this book does just that. "What Jamie Saw" is a story about a family who simply tries to get their lives back on track after a problematic situation, Coman's use of description and imagery makes the reader become the characters and develop a better understanding and appreciation for the book

Although I liked this book, I am not sure if the content will be suitable for its intended audience. The cont
Tony Lee
Apr 02, 2012 Tony Lee rated it did not like it
The story is about a father throwing his baby out of a crib in the middle of the night and the family moves away from the father. This is basically the whole story. The story was very descriptive which gave me a good sense of what the surroundings look like but, not enough going on for the plot of the story. This story was a very quick read but it very confusing. There was no real climax to this story, and if there was it was right at the end. Nothing really exciting took place which was a bumme ...more
May 17, 2009 Sherrie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: already-read
"What Jamie Saw" by Carolyn Coman

(from the back cover)
Jamie and his mom and baby sister Nin have moved to Earl's little trailer that looks like a toaster up in the hills in the middle of nowhere. Jamie imagines that they are the only survivors of some catastrophe, but they really moved because Van threw Nin across the room. Nin's okay, because Mom caught her, and Earl brings them food and makes sure they're okay. But then there's the county fair and Jamie wants to go. And there's school and he m
Feb 21, 2010 Ch_jank-caporale rated it really liked it
What Jamie saw should not be seen- ever. Not by children, not by adults. Unfortunately, it is seen all too often.
At the beginning of the book, Jamie lives with his mother, his half sister Nin, and Van, his mother's boyfriend. The first chapter is one of the most amazing openings to a book I've ever read. It is psychologically terse, with repeating lines, long rambling sentences, and a dream-like quality that represents a child jerked from sleep and unable to process what is happening. The reader
Third grader, Jamie and his infant sister, Nin live with Patty, his mother and step-father, Van. One night, Jamie awakes to his step-father poised to footfall-toss crying Nin towards the wall. Luckily, Patty catches Nin in mid-flight without being harmed. Hurriedly, Patty gathers up Jamie and Nin and high-tails it out of the house and seeks shelter with old friend, Earl.

After being exposed to Van's violence, Jamie exhibits some tendencies towards abuse himself. Patty is bewildered, frustrated,
Oct 13, 2009 Carolynne rated it liked it
Shelves: newbery-honors
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 08, 2012 Caitlin rated it really liked it
What Jamie Saw is a book about a young boy named Jamie, his mother, and his younger sister Nin. One night Jamie wakes up to his mother's boyfriend, Van, throwing his younger sister across the room because she is crying so hard. His mother miraculously catches Vin and she takes the kids and leaves. They go to his mother's friends house and move into a trailer at the edge of town. There they learn to deal with the fear of Van and dealing with their little family.

This story was very touching. The
Lisa Rathbun
Aug 11, 2011 Lisa Rathbun rated it it was ok
Because this book is short and the protagonist is in third grade, I think teachers might give this to children who are too young for it. If a teacher suspects that a child is in a possibly abusive situation, the teacher could recommend this book, but otherwise I would not want to see third graders reading it. Beyond the first sentence of the book, there is no violence in the book, except when Jamie kicks his mother as well as the drawer in which Nin is sleeping. But their fear is palpable. It is ...more
Pamela Chang ibanez
Jul 28, 2013 Pamela Chang ibanez rated it really liked it
"What Jamie Saw" was a great book. The beginning is very interesting and it ends with a great finish. To summarize this book quickly, it's about a boy named Jamie who saw his mother's boyfriend throw his baby sister across the room. Luckily his mother was able to catch her and Jamie, his sister and mom moved to her friend's trailer. Though he saw something very traumatizing, he tries to make it better by believing that it was just supposed to be a magic trick. Him and his family are living in fe ...more
Sep 28, 2010 Marlee added it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jackie Pino
Escaping in the car with his mother and his little half-sister, Nin, Jamie tries not to think about what just happened. The end up living in a small trailer on an old logging road that is powered only by a generator. It is not much, but Jamie, Nin and their mom, Patty, make it home. Although they never talk about it, they live in fear of Patty’s boyfriend, Van, whom they had run from in the first place. Jamie’s teacher, Mrs. Desrochers is the only one who can pull both Patty and Jamie back towar ...more
Thomas Bell
It was okay, maybe, but I really didn't like this book.

At the very beginning of the book Jamie saw his mom's current boyfriend throw his baby sister across the room. The girl was okay, but Jamie and his mom were not. They left, had help from a friend, and struggled to get along. The bulk of the book, (though it's quite short) is about them trying to learn to get on with their lives.

One thing though is that I really didn't like Jamie's mom. She was a chain smoker, and even would smoke into the ba
Emily Bardin
Feb 19, 2014 Emily Bardin rated it liked it
Shelves: ya-books-1-12
What Jamie Saw follows Jamie's perspective of the affects of his mother's relationship with an abusive man. After Van, Jamie's mother's boyfriend, throws his little sister across the room--who is miraculously caught by his mother--Jamie and his mother and sister leave and find shelter in a friend's small trailer. Jamie and his mother cope with the adjustment of their life-in-hiding and the fear that seems to follow them no matter where they escape.

Though BYU-Idaho's library would characterize th
Feb 07, 2013 7Grace rated it really liked it
What Jamie Saw by Carolyn Coman is a really good book. This book is about child abuse. After Van (Jamie's dad) threw his infant daughter across the room, Jamie, his mom, and his sister Nin decided to move. They had to find a home and adjust to their new life. As I was reading this book, It filled me with suspense. When Van threw Nin, I wanted to know what would come next. What would happen to Nin? Would she be okay? I constantly wanted to keep reading more and more. This book showed me what chil ...more
Rachel Otting
Jamie saw Van throw his little sister, Nin, across the room. Luckily his mom showed up at the effect moment and caught Nin. They quickly got out of the house and went and stayed with Earl, Jamie's mom's friend. They moved into a tiny trailer in the middle of nowhere. Jamie puts off going to school for awhile, he knows he can get away with it. He goes to a carnival when they see a Van look-a-like. They dart and try to hide from him. Jamie's teacher brings him under her wing. Christmas is approach ...more
Aug 19, 2010 Danielle rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010, fiction-mg
I spent some time in the middle grades stacks at the library and found this tiny book, a short story, really. I took it home and read it in just over an hour. Jamie sees his mother's live-in boyfriend do something terrible that thankfully doesn't end badly. He and his mother and baby sister leave and set out on their own. Jamie struggles with anger and confusion and often lashes out at his mother and baby sister. I was curious how such a small book would be grand enough in its literary scope to ...more
I thought this book dealt with a heavy subject matter in a realistic and engaging way. But it didn't overwhelm the reader with dark or scary images. It simply showed the perspective from a young boy's view and illustrated how abuse affects a family. I didn't like this book because I felt like it was too simplistic, it only offered a snapshot of the boy's life and his realization of that one moment. I liked the writing style of the book, but I wanted the author to go deeper with the plot and char ...more
Preston Shewell
Feb 20, 2015 Preston Shewell rated it it was ok
Shelves: ya-1-12
This is a book about a little boy who's life is changed when he sees his stepfather throw his baby sister, motivating his mom to take him and the baby away to live on their own. While the main character is an eight-year-old, the subject matter and overall content scream young adult.

I wasn't too impressed with the book, despite its high praise from critics and its awards and nominations. There wasn't anything in it that really made it noteworthy, and it was honestly a little boring. I was impress
Mar 17, 2016 Laura rated it really liked it
Shelves: modern-realistic
I started reading this book when I picked off the shelves while my students were in the library. I was compelled to keep reading so i checked it out.

it's a very good story of abuse written from a young child's point of view. It's compelling. Jamie doesn't how the words the express his feelings He doesn't have the words to discuss the abuse. Instead, he reacts. And he's not reacting well.

I loved the story but it left me with too many questions. I guess it was just too much like real life for me t
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Carolyn Coman (born 1951 in Evanston near Chicago) is a writer of children's books living in South Hampton, New Hampshire. Her books What Jamie Saw (1995) and Many Stones (2000) were nominated for several awards.

She worked as a bookbinder from 1975-84 and later as an editor with Heinemann before she became a full-time writer. Her books include the portrait documentary of the debut, and a picture b
More about Carolyn Coman...

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