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The Silent Boy by Lois Lowry
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Jun 10, 2010

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** spoiler alert ** The Silent Boy – Lois Lowry
The story is narrated by an old woman named Katy Thatcher in 1987, about a dangerous period in her life from 1908 to 1911. Katy, whose father is a doctor, takes an interest in Jacob, a boy from a neighboring farm, who can't speak but enjoys quietly singing to himself, and also seems able to communicate with animals. Jacob occasionally comes to the Thatcher home to be in the barn with the animals. Katy comes to feel she can communicate with him in a basic but sympathetic way. When the live-in housekeeper next door, sister to the Thatcher's housekeeper, has a baby out of wedlock, Jacob, aware of the trouble, abducts and brings the baby to the Thatcher's house on a stormy night, hoping, Katy believes, to save it the way he has saved orphaned lambs by bringing them to a substitute mother. But the baby dies of exposure and Jacob is taken to a mental institution. Later, Katy gets married and becomes a doctor. 50 years later the Asylum closed and Jacob was never seen again. There were no records of him there.
The book “The Silent Boy” by Lois Lowry was a decent read. I do not enjoy reading so it took me a long time to finish it. It was a brutal story to follow along, which didn’t help with making me want to read it. There are a lot of disturbing events, which are sometimes hard to understand. The most complicated part of the book was the character of Jacob. I could never fully understand what was wrong with him, but on the other hand I guess that is a part of his character and a part of the story. Lois Lowry did a good job writing this book and I can tell much time was spent when coming up with the specific characters for this novel. Overall, the book was alright. I think someone who enjoys reading and can find the deeper meaning of stories would really like this book.
Editorial Review - Reed Business Information (c) 2003
Gr 5-8-Katy is a doctor's daughter in the early 20th century, and her curiosity is tolerated, even encouraged. This explains her relationship with the 14-year-old brother of her family's hired girl, Peggy. Jacob is "the silent boy" of the book's title who somehow communicates with animals, but only makes humming and clicking sounds when he is with people. Nevertheless, Katy and Jacob develop an unusual and treasured friendship. As befits a child growing up at this time, Katy is a true innocent and is puzzled by some of the things that happen around her, such as the seemingly sudden appearance of a new baby in her family. The most dramatic incident occurs almost at the end of the book on the night of Katy's 10th birthday, when Jacob disappears along with his sister Nellie's unwanted and unnamed baby. Although Katy intuits that Jacob has brought the child to her own baby sister's nursery to ensure its proper care, Jacob is nevertheless arrested when the infant is found dead. The courts place him in the town's asylum for the rest of his life. The now-retired Docky (the nickname that Katy's young patients gave her) narrates the story as she looks back from 1987 to these main events. Lowry excels in developing strong and unique characters and in showing Katy's life in a small town that changes around her as the first telephones and automobiles arrive. Family photographs, along with some that the author found in a New Hampshire antique store or borrowed from friends, enliven and encourage a deeper response to this very special historical novel.-Ellen Fader, Multnomah County Library, Portland, OR

Editorial Review - Reed Business Information (c) 2005
Nine-year-old Katy describes the unlikely friendship she develops with a "touched" farm boy. "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," wrote PW in a starred review. Ages 12-up. (Jan.)


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