Friday, March 21, 2014
"Maniac Magee" by Jerry Spinelli
Title: Maniac Magee
Author: Jerry Spinelli
Have I Read it Before: Yes
The first time I read this book was in the sixth grade. We were reading it in class, a chapter each day. However, since I am me, I checked out a copy from the library and proceeded to finish the book over a weekend. As I recall, I did well on all tests related to Maniac Magee as I essentially read it twice in a very short time. Maniac wasn't always Maniac. He was born Jeffrey Lionel and would have had a very normal life if it wasn't for the accident that took his parents. He was sent to live with his dysfunctional aunt and uncle, but when he can't take it anymore, he runs away and eventually finds himself in Two Mills. Most in Two Mills don't know what to think about the newly nicknamed Maniac and he doesn't know how to act in this town. It doesn't matter to him what color a person's skin is. He doesn't succumb to the town bullies nor does he fear Finsterwald like all of the other neighborhood kids. He isn't like anyone this town has ever seen.
This book is just great. Though a great deal of it is fairly funny it touches on so many important topics in a way that is easy to relate to. Re-reading it as an adult makes me realize just how much Spinelli has managed to fit into a relatively short book. Maniac deals with racism, poverty, various kinds of families (from the fantastic to horribly sad) and death. The book is a quick read due to it's size, but there is so much to be learned from it. I suspect that different readers will connect to this book in many ways, but feel that there is something here for everyone. This is a Newbery winner that I 100% understand why it was selected as that year's recipient and is a must read for all young (or not so young) readers.