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Review: Paperboy

October 18, 2013


Eleven year old Victor takes over his friend Rat’s paper route for a month while Rat is off to visit his grandparents’ farm.  Rat’s name is Art but, with his stutter, Rat is about the best Victor can do.  Victor says,

I always picked my way around words and sounds in sentences like I walked around broken bottles and dog turds in alleys.

Delivering the paper isn’t a problem but Victor is dreading collection day.  He has a lot of support at home, particularly from Mam, the family’s live in help, (this is Memphis in the late 50s, after all) but wants to do things on his own.  He encounters a side of his hometown he never knew existed.  He manages pretty well until he has a run in with a local junkman and the trouble really begins.

Paperboy, by Vince Vawter, is Victor’s coming of age story and it has so many elements of books I generally love but I just didn’t connect with this one the way I’d hoped to.  I thought it was okay, but I just didn’t love it like I thought I would.  Even though it’s fiction. Victor’s story mirrors the author’s own.  I really liked that the story is told from the point of view of the speech impaired main character but it didn’t include enough emotion for me to feel connected to him.  I wanted to know how his encounters made him feel.

The pacing of the story was on the slow side but, otherwise, it was fine.  The characters and situations Victor encountered felt believable to me but I was never fully engaged with him or his situation.

I listened to the audio version of Paperboy and I wasn’t crazy about Lincoln Hoppe’s narration – I just didn’t buy him as the young, stuttering Victor.  I thought his delivery lacked emotion and I can’t help but wonder if that’s why I didn’t connect to the story.  The audiobook is on 5 CDs, lasts approximately 6 hours, and includes a nice note from the author at the end.

Review copy provided by Random House.  I am an Indiebound Affliate.
17 Comments leave one →
  1. sandynawrot permalink
    October 18, 2013 6:22 am

    That is a short book, so maybe there just wasn’t enough time to develop the characters? the narrator issue doesn’t help either. When I come across one that doesn’t appeal to me, I try to separate the writing from the audible voice, but it is hard.

  2. October 18, 2013 6:53 am

    What a shame because the premise sounds promising. I bet the problem lies with both the writing and the narration.

  3. October 18, 2013 8:00 am

    Hmm, the premise sounds interesting, but I think I’ll pass.

  4. October 18, 2013 9:38 am

    Too bad this one didn’t resonate with you, I typically enjoy a coming of age story too. As Sandy said, perhaps it was just too short.

  5. October 18, 2013 10:33 am

    Sorry it wasn’t a winner for you.

  6. Patty permalink
    October 18, 2013 10:45 am

    If you didn’t love it…I know I wouldn’t! Thanks!

  7. lab1990 permalink
    October 18, 2013 2:05 pm

    I’m sorry this wasn’t quite the fit you were hoping for…though I like that parts of it are based on the author’s own life/experiences.

    Lauren from

  8. October 18, 2013 2:17 pm

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Kathy. Enjoy your Friday.

  9. talesofwhimsy permalink
    October 18, 2013 3:12 pm

    Great honest review. First I’ve heard of it.

  10. October 18, 2013 3:47 pm

    Sounds like an interesting start to the book, but slow paces can be deadly if you can’t connect to the character emotionally.

  11. October 18, 2013 9:16 pm

    Sorry you weren’t thrilled with the book. It really disappoints me when I’m so eager to listen to a book and then I don’t like the narration. It’s hard for me to read a book I’m not liking, but to keep listening to one when I don’t like the voice…I can’t do it.

  12. October 19, 2013 10:59 am

    Sorry this one wasn’t great for you. For some reason I always find it hard to connect with male characters and generally avoid books with them.

  13. October 19, 2013 9:40 pm

    Wow, I love the quote you share! It’s too bad the narration was so flat.

  14. October 20, 2013 6:46 am

    Sorry to hear thee narration didn’t work – that can definitely kill a story!

  15. October 20, 2013 9:32 pm

    I’m impressed that you finished it! Bad narration really makes me cringe and I don’t have the patience to listen to a whole story if I don’t connect with narrator

  16. October 22, 2013 10:13 pm

    This would probably be great for kids who have a speech impediment.

  17. bookingmama permalink
    October 30, 2013 6:24 pm

    The narrator can make all of the difference in the world.

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