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Toastmaster

A delightful “coming of age” story about the precious boy, Jeffrey (albeit only 11 years old.) A barrage of details, both of place and character, pull the reader along. Among the details are lyrical passages: “the sun hangs like a Day-Glo red yo-yo on a string above the horizon and “it looks like a flaming beehive, going,going,going, gone!”

Told in 3rd person, present tense, Jeffrey, the narrator considers himself “invisible.” He injects words from his vocabulary book and presents them to the reader as (word). An unusual device. How does it enhance or detract from the flow of the story? I’m not sure. He even gives a name to a perceived brother .He “He must have a problem” he says, as he has weekly sessions with a counselor. He worries about being a disaster. His mother, a specialist in empowerment “does everything too much” he thinks. He has an invisible life, unknown to him mother, Dar. He reaches out to people,”the Hamsters”, as he calls the older couple. He has intimate relations with them and relates very well. We learn about his likes and dislikes in an unusual way, through his insight into the habits of others. Another unusual device used by the writer.

Jeffrey “finds himself” with the help of a joke. He seems to loose his invisible self as he joins the “Toastmasters” with his own joke. Then he responds to a total stranger with a “high there.” This night he has never felt more awake in his life. It is the turning point, he is no longer the “invisible boy.” Much to the chagrin of his mother, Dar, he takes 2nd prize in a talent contest at his middle school and he is off and running.

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