3 out of 4 stars
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Dewey won't talk. It's not that he can't; he just won't. He's in the foster care system and has been labeled as autistic. Nobody is really sure where he came from, but he hasn't said a word as long as he can remember. Now he's in the special education classroom, and his foster parents are determined to milk the system for whatever they can. But it doesn't seem like anyone actually cares about Dewey. One day Dewey pushes things a bit too far and ends up in trouble with the law. Dewey decides to run away, but where will he go? What will he do?
Dewey: The Silent Boy by Brant Vickers is a very realistic account of a troubled young man. A young man that has been mislabeled and perhaps even failed by the system. A young man who is still trying to figure out who he is and why he matters. It's a story that, while not true, very well could be.
The book itself is really split into two halves. In the first half, we get to see what the modern education system is like, especially when it comes to special education. The author, having worked with special needs children himself, writes this portion of the tale very accurately. It was heartbreaking and eye-opening to see what goes on in classrooms and foster families in these situations. The second half focuses on Dewey's journey both physically and metaphorically. This is where Dewey really learns who he is and what he is willing to fight for. It was well-written and helped me to understand Dewey more as a person.
On a personal note, my nephew is autistic which is the reason that I picked the story up in the first place. I had sympathy for these children from the beginning. The first half of the story is a very accurate portrayal of how teachers have their hands tied by the system. The second half of the story was a bit different than I was expecting but still very enjoyable. It has a bit of a twist to it that I didn't see coming. For a book that was very character driven, I admired the author for adding something unique to the mix.
As for the writing itself, the overall flow of the story had a great rhythm that continued to draw the reader in ever deeper. Just when you are beginning to wonder about Dewey and why he is the way he is, the author throws a morsel out for you to feed on. In this way, he pulls you along learning about the characters slowly, leaving enough mystery to keep you intrigued. However, I did spot more than 10 errors in a book of under 100 pages. These were not overly distracting, ranging from missing words to homonym substitution. But, there were enough to lead me to believe that this book has not undergone professional editing.
All in all, this is a book that I enjoyed reading. Dewey is an interesting young man that has a compelling story. Due to the editing issues, though, I rate Dewey: The Silent Boy a 3 out of 4 stars. Since this subject is so near to my heart, I have a hard time not giving a blanket recommendation that everyone should read the story. That is my opinion, but to be more specific, those who deal with children with special needs in any capacity would enjoy this story. It would also be good for anyone who enjoys character development as Dewey is an enthralling protagonist. Lastly, I would recommend it, as well, for young adults. The lesson here is that there is usually more going on than meets the eye. We should respect others even when they are not like us. I have to thank Mr. Vickers for bringing these issues to light.
Dewey: The Silent Boy
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