Tommy is trying to do the right thing. His sister, Mary Lou, is in the hospital recovering from horrible burns. She was injured doing his chore.
So Tommy takes over Mary Lou’s paper route. Just until she comes home. But he misses her horribly. They were allies in trying to survive their home, their mother’s abuse, and care for their younger siblings. Now Tommy’s trying to do it all alone.
The Paper Cowboy by Kristen Levine follows Tommy through this crisis. Will Mary Lou recover? Will his mother get help? Will Tommy be able to find the Communist in his neighborhood?
I thought this book was amazing. Tommy is a bully. It’s interesting to see Tommy struggle with how he treats a boy at school, and how he treats him when they’re alone together. He knows what he’s doing is wrong, but he can’t seem to help himself.
Highly recommended for ages 9 and up.