Book: Petey by Ben Mikaelson
Description: Stand-alone, middle grade contemporary
Publishing Information: Published on June 22, 2010 by Disney-Hyperion
First Sentence: The train’s whistle sounded urgently as it approached the crossing.
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(taken from the back of the book)
In 1922, at the age of two, Petey’s distraught parents commit him to the state’s insane asylum, unaware that their son is actually suffering from severe cerebral palsy. Bound by his wheelchair and struggling to communicate with the people around him, Petey finds a way to remain kind and generous despite the horrific conditions in his new “home”. Through the decades, he befriends several caretakers, but his heartbroken when each eventually leaves him. Determined not to be hurt again, he vows to no longer let the hope of lifelong friends and family torment him.
That changes after he is moved into a nursing home and meets a young teen named Trevor Ladd; he sees something in the boy and decides to risk friendship one last time. Trevor, new to town and a bit of a loner, is at first wary of the old man in the wheelchair. But after hearing more of his story, Trevor learns that there is much more to Petey than meets the eye.
Petey is a touching story of friendship, discovery, and the uplifting power of the human spirit.
Cover Review: I like it! It’s cute, middle grade-esque and relevant to the story. The older cover was a lot darker and less inviting, but I also like that one now that I’ve read the book and caught on to the subtle book references.
My mom brought me home a (signed!) copy of this book after meeting the author. I thought it sounded fantastic and was excited to pick it up. I’ve read one other Ben Mikaelson book, Touching Spirit Bear, and for the most part I enjoyed it, but I did have to read it for school and do about a thousand projects related to it, which definitely took away from the enjoyment. However, that’s not the book we’re talking about right now.
So, Petey. Overall, I liked it. It was definitely middle grade, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it was just a very prominent thing. The plot wasn’t too complex and there weren’t any huge surprises (to the point where the synopsis was almost a summary), but it was still a fun read.
For the most part, I liked the characters, Petey’s best friend Calvin having to be my favorite. I did have some issues with Trevor. He didn’t read like a “young teen” at all. He was incredibly indecisive and extremely moody. It seemed like every other page he was getting really, really mad about something out of the blue and then feeling guilty about it.
I did like how much we got to know Petey. You would think that the beginning of this book would open with Trevor and then we would get to know Petey’s backstory over time, but we really follow Petey throughout the years. By the end of the book, readers of this book will catch on to Peter’s diction and know what he’s saying even before it is translated for you.
It was quite a sad story, as you would expect after the synopsis tells about how Petey lost friends over and over again. However, the ending of this book didn’t break my heart like I thought it would.
I think it’s because everything wrapped up so perfectly. Literally every lose end was tied and everyone who could’ve been considered an antagonist joined the good side. It was all a little too perfect. The overall message, however, was a great one.
All in all, this was a fun book that I think would appeal to middle grade readers. It wasn’t one of those middle grade books (like Percy Jackson and Harry Potter) that I think is completely necessary to read or as enjoyable to read as a young adult or adult, but I don’t regret reading it. It was a quick read that helped get me out of a reading slump and I know that my younger cousins will really enjoy it next!