Speechless by Adam P. Schmitt

Speechless by Adam P. Schmitt. Candlewick Press, 9781536219012, 2021 (hardcover edition 2018)

Format: Paperback, 293 pages

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

What did you like about the book?  This book takes place at the wake of Patrick, Jimmy’s cousin.  Jimmy has a lot to think about after his cousin dies, and to make matters worse, he is told to make a speech at the funeral.  The trouble is, he cannot think of any situation in which he enjoyed being with his cousin, as he had no filters and would inevitably lose control.  As the story progresses, Jimmy remembers specific situations with his family and how his cousin always seemed to ruin everything.  These flashbacks along with the scenes of the wake and the introduction to various family members shed light on Jimmy’s family and the numerous issues that developed which eventually ended in Patrick’s death.  The author does an excellent job of depicting an eighth grader’s thoughts, and Jimmy’s character is well developed.  Other characters are well developed as well and may cause some readers to reflect on their own family relationships.  The plot will have readers turning pages to see exactly what happened to Patrick.  Engaging and gut wrenching at times, this book is hard to put down.  It should be noted that this book centers on the early demise of a youth, which may be disturbing to some readers. 

Anything you didn’t like about it?  There are several typos in the text, two examples: “Betsy scans our family and homes in on the only one person she knows” as opposed to “hones” in.  Also, “He was breathing heavily, his attention I’d fix on Patrick.”  

To whom would you recommend this book? Readers in grades 6 and up who enjoy realistic fiction about overcoming adversity within a family will enjoy this text.  

Who should buy this book? This would be a good purchase for middle schools or public libraries that need more books on disjointed families dealing with loss.  

Where would you shelve it? Realistic Fiction 

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles?  I feel that this title would reside near the top of a “to read” pile.

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Elena Schuck, Nathaniel H. Wixon School Library, Dennis, Massachusetts

Date of review: May 27, 2021

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