Children's, Coming of age, Family dynamics, Fiction, Lowry-Lois, Social Commentary, Young Adult

#529 The Silent Boy by Lois Lowry

The Silent Boy by Lois LowryThe Silent Boy by Lois Lowry

A story told through pictures and words has the ability to reach out and grab you a little harder than a story with just words. The pictures bring life to something that would have just been in your head before.

The Silent Boy is a story told through old photographs and words. The boy who is silent is named Jacob Stoltz and Katy first met him when she was a little girl. Her father was the local doctor. He traveled all over the countryside in a buggy pulled by horses. Katy later grew up to be a doctor herself, but Jacob was an important part of her life for a while.

When Katy is young her family hires a girl from out in the country to help around the house. The girl is named Peggy. She belongs to the Stoltz family. She has a brother named Jacob. Peggy says Jacob is touched. This means that Jacob is not as mentally developed as other children might be. He can make noises, but he never speaks. He takes care of the animals on the farm very well. He’s quite responsible for someone who is deemed less by people.

Katy is fascinated by Jacob to a degree, but still has her own life to live. She learns more about the medical field from her father and her mother welcomes a new baby into the family. Katy is fascinated by all of this, but a tragedy strikes involving Jacob and an asylum. Katy later grows up and becomes quite the doctor, but she’ll always remember Jacob.

What I liked

Lois used old photographs to tell this story. She picked photographs from her past, but also from the pasts of other people to make this story up. She strung the photographs together in an order and then used words to fill in the rest. It’s an interesting approach to writing a book. It’s definitely an exercise in creativity. How do these people fit together? What about this building? What about this car? Where does it all fit in? I’m definitely intrigued by how Lois set out to write this story.

Katy has some spunk to her. I like that she’s not this total girly-girl. She’s interested in girlish things, but she’s also interested in medicine. Good for Katy.

What I didn’t like

This story is sad, but name me one Lois Lowry story that isn’t sad in some way. Lois has a fascination with sadness. It’s probably one of her signature things, if she has signature things. It makes me wonder if there was some tragedy that shook Lois’ life or she’s just attracted to story lines with sadness in them. I don’t know a ton about Lois, so I’m just guessing.

The sadness that is in this story is a rough kind of sadness. All sadness is not pleasant, but the sadness contained in this story is the kind that makes you think and makes you feel perhaps more strongly than other sadnesses. A terrible tragedy occurs and someone is punished for it. This character didn’t deserve the punishment. The characters who put this sadness in motion didn’t deserve what happened to them either. The world isn’t fair and sometimes sadness comes to people who don’t deserve it, but the sadness here really tugs at you. It makes you feel sorry for just about everyone involved.


I feel bad for everyone in this story.

Weigh In

Do you think profound sadness makes a story better?

If you are related to someone with mental or developmental disabilities, do you find that other people do not understand how your relative acts? Do these other people show something akin to fear when being around your relative?


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