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The Boy Who Could Make Himself Disappear by…

The Boy Who Could Make Himself Disappear

by Kin Platt

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I found this book first in grade school, then read it again (and again) as I got older. Although something of a 70s period piece, this story of a child abuse and survival haunts me still. I don't have the copy to hand and I haven't read through it in a few years, so I can't recall if it is told in first person or just a narrow focus third person, but it seems to me that the story was in Roger's voice (Roger being the young protagonist), a voice with a defect, a lisp, that has deeper roots and far reaching affects on his life. The brutal realities of his life -- the neglect and casual cruelty of his parents, both busy trying to figure themselves out and only barely aware they even are parents; the relationships he forges with strangers; the awkward horror of school; the mystery of being an invisible young boy in New York City. These features of the story have lasted in my mind for nearly 30 years, and those features have no age. ( )
  Murphy-Jacobs | Mar 30, 2013 |
In this story, an already troubled twelve-year-old boy gradually sinks into the abyss after his wealthy parents divorce and he moves to New York City with his abusive mother. By the end of the book, Roger is in a "schizophrenic withdrawal": hospitalized, mute and completely unresponsive to his environment.

This book was published in 1968 and it shows its age. I cannot imagine a boy Roger's age being able to run around 21st century New York City to the extent that he does in the novel, and his "schizophrenia" would today probably be diagnosed as severe depression or post-traumatic stress. And Roger's speech therapist is way too angelic to be real. That said, the book has its merits: it's interesting to watch the progress of Roger's speech therapy (he has a psychological speech defect and cannot pronounce his own name), and his cruel, neglectful mother and his own attempts to cope with her ring true throughout the ages.

I think this may be of interest to people looking at early young adult novels; the genre was still being formed in the 1960s and this is a good example of it. ( )
  meggyweg | Apr 21, 2010 |
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