I loved The Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine, so I bought a copy of Paper Cowboy as soon as it was published and then looked at it longingly for a while. Finally, over spring break I decided I should get to reading a book by an author I enjoyed so much before.
And of course I loved The Paper Cowboy.
Tommy is interested in cowboys. He spends much of his time messing around with his friends, who aren't really all that nice. Neither is Tommy. He's a bit of a bully, picking on Sam, a boy in his class whose face was burned. He also lifts a few yo-yos from the store Sam's dad, Mr. McKenzie, owns.
Despite this side of Tommy, there is another, sweeter side to him as well. He gets along well with his older sister, and is a good big brother to his two younger sisters.
Although things aren't going very well in Tommy's house, anyway, things become even worse after his older sister sustains serious burns to her legs and spends months in the hospital. The beatings Tommy receives from his mother increase, as she struggles with what we would now call postpartum depression.
It's the 1950s and when Tommy finds a Communist newspaper in the papers he collects for a paper drive, he decides to plant it at Mr. McKenzie's grocery store.
When the paper is used to wrap someones purchase, Mr. McKenzie is accused of being a Communist and people refuse to shop at his store. There are some mistakes Tommy can't undo.
There are a lot of things going on in The Paper Cowboy, and Levine manages all of them well. This is a book I can't wait to talk about with other readers, and plan on using with my book club. I am anxious for what Levine writes next.