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The Paper Cowboy [Kindle Edition]

Kristin Levine

Print List Price: £11.22
Kindle Price: £10.26 includes VAT* & free wireless delivery via Amazon Whispernet
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Book Description

Though he thinks of himself as a cowboy, Tommy is really a bully.  He's always playing cruel jokes on classmates or stealing from the store. But Tommy has a reason: life at home is tough. His abusive mother isn't well; in fact, she may be mentally ill, and his sister, Mary Lou, is in the hospital badly burned from doing a chore it was really Tommy's turn to do. To make amends, Tommy takes over Mary Lou's paper route. But the paper route also becomes the perfect way for Tommy to investigate his neighbors after stumbling across a copy of The Daily Worker, a communist newspaper.

Tommy is shocked to learn that one of his neighbors could be a communist, and soon fear of a communist in this tight-knit community takes hold of everyone when Tommy uses the paper to frame a storeowner, Mr. McKenzie. As Mr. McKenzie's business slowly falls apart and Mary Lou doesn't seem to get any better, Tommy's mother's abuse gets worse causing Tommy's bullying to spiral out of control.

Poignantly written, Kristin Levine proves herself a master of gripping and affecting historical fiction.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2792 KB
  • Print Length: 353 pages
  • Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers (4 Sept. 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.6 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Look At Life (And Mental Illness) Through A Cold War Child’s Eyes 5 Sept. 2014
By Zachary Koenig - Published on
The process of growing up is generally the same throughout the ages. It is merely the times that change. “The Paper Cowboy” is a story about growing up set to the backdrop of Cold War America.
For a basic plot summary, “Paper Cowboy” tells the story of young Tommy, who is just your everyday, average youngster. One day, however, Tommy finds a newspaper written by a Communist faction at the local dump and turns it into his own private quest to find the owner and rat him/her out in true McCarthy-ism fashion. Before he can start the process, though, Tommy’s sister is badly burned and taken to the hospital, prompting his already-a-bit-mentally-unstable mother to “jump off the deep end” and resort to both physical and emotional abuse to cope with the injury to the girl. As Tommy takes over the paper route once belonging to his sister (and gets to know the neighborhood in the process), he begins to understand a bit more about the power of community and the danger (or perhaps brilliance) of an idea.
The reason this book is an enjoyable read is a simple one, yet it stands the test of time: it draws you into the characters. All the characters in this book are so well-written that you quickly begin feeling for them and want to know how they all turn out. The plot of the story can be a bit helter-skelter at times, but it really doesn’t matter because author Kristin Levine develops the characters so well.
Plus, though “The Paper Cowboy” is primarily marketed to YA audiences, it can be enjoyed by adult readers like myself. I found it quite difficult to put down, as I began the sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes humorous journey of Tommy going from a boy to a young man.
Overall, I enjoyed “The Paper Cowboy” more than I thought I would, to be honest. It looks like it might be strictly YA fare in the beginning, but then quickly takes things to another emotional level that will draw in any audience.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Paper Cowboy 18 Nov. 2014
By Sandra Mitchell - Published on
The Paper Cowboy is a well written story about a family growing up in the 1950's in a small Midwestern town. I loved the perspective in the story of bullying through the bully's eyes. While there are a lot of characters that are easy to despise, there are a lot that are extremely lovable as well and Levine did a fantastic job showing how complex people can be. This was a book that I enjoyed as a mom and so did my 10 year old son!
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent historical fiction 5 Jan. 2015
By Tere Hager - Published on
I recently read a blog post by Betsy Bird of Fuse 8 Productions about the worst parents in recent children's books. I think Tommy's parents in Kristin Levine's " The Paper Cowboy" are way up there on the list.

Tommy is a young boy ( about 5th or 6 the grade -I don't think it says) growing up in a small Illinois town in the 1950's. This is the time of Lone Ranger on the radio, John Wayne movies in the downtown theater, McCarthy's Red Scare in the news, and immigrant neighbors wearing the scars of WW II. Things are bad at home. Tommy's mom has always been moody, but after the birth of a 4th baby and a serious accident involving his older sister, Mom's moods turn violent, and Tommy bears the brunt of it. Mom' s terrible traits can perhaps be excused. It's clear she is mentally ill. But, it's Tommy's father that is most disturbing. His willful ignorance of what Tommy is facing is more than just your typical 1950's Dad being out of touch with what's going on at home.

Mom's episodes of rage are terrifying and Tommy is utterly alone to deal with them while his big sister is in the hospital. His alienation and fear as he realizes his dad is not going to help is palpable. Yet, he realizes there are people in his community to turn to. He fearfully and tentatively asks for help, and it's a beautiful thing.

I love books about the Red Scare. It's a time that is not addressed all that often in children's and YA historical fiction, especially compared to WWII and then the Civil Rights era of the 1960's. However, it's a fascinating time, especially through the eyes of a young boy who just wants to be a cowboy and thinks he can do that by rooting out "Commies" in his small town. Levine does a masterful job of showing small town 50's life- with hints of the horrors of the recent past and the tumultuous years that are coming in the next decade.

While the ending of Tommy's tale might be wrapped up just a little too neatly, " The Paper Cowboy" is a beautiful, heartfelt story with small-town life, helpful neighbors, family struggles and a bully being redeemed.
4.0 out of 5 stars I love how it wrapped up though 19 Dec. 2014
By MomOf3 - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition
The main character is a bully, and he is having a rough time dealing with issues at home. While reading it, I was both angry and sympathetic. I love how it wrapped up though. I think it is a good read for middle readers and up. Younger children (especially) would benefit most if another person read the book too--I think it provides great opportunities for discussion.
5.0 out of 5 stars Good story & has life lessons for all ages 28 Oct. 2014
By jlfio - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Good story & has life lessons for all ages. Deals with problems of bullying and child abuse in a non threatening way. Nice story telling style.
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