Friday, September 8, 2017

Friday's Forgotten Books: Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli

From the cover:

A Newbery Medal winning modern classic about a racially divided small town and a boy who runs.

Jeffrey Lionel "Maniac" Magee might have lived a normal life if a freak accident hadn't made him an orphan. After living with his unhappy and uptight aunt and uncle for eight years, he decides to run--and not just run away, but run. This is where the myth of Maniac Magee begins, as he changes the lives of a racially divided small town with his amazing and legendary feats.

My thoughts:

This book is almost twenty years old, but it feels as current as ever: the racial divisions, the self-imposed limits of a neighborhood and community... I picked this book up because a teacher had recommended it a few years ago, and I was struck by how unique and deep the story is.

Maniac Magee is a bit of an odyssey story, when we follow a kid who has lost his parents in a tragic accident, and becomes a nomad, moving from house, to park bench, to the zoo's bison habitat. The town of Two Mills is divided as so many towns are, by race and class, and Maniac Magee experiences all of it. In his nomad year the story covers, he bridges divides, and encourages everyone around him to look beyond the limits society and they themselves have put upon them.

Also, it's funny. Although the book covers heavy subjects, it does so in a non-judgmental, entertaining and humorous way. It's middle-grade after all: we serve our deep conflict with a dose of fun. I highly recommend this one to readers of all ages.

For more of Friday's Forgotten Books, click on over to Patti Abbott's blog.


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