Rat Boy

Rat Boy

by Pam Mostek

Overview:Living in a rundown motel-turned-make-shift apartment with his callous father, kid brother, Dallas, and aging grandmother is just one of the many secrets Beemer struggles to keep especially from his archenemy, Vinney. A heartless bully, Vinney and his goons will use whatever they can to get to Beemer. Usually quiet and low-key, Beemer makes a lifetime habit of flying under the radar and being invisible and miserable while enduring the unendurable. Then one day, Vinney decides to up the ante and pick on Dallas, too. Beemer, desperate to protect him, takes matters into his own hands. The consequences of that decision are life-changing.

Deanna Boe (10/15/17): It has been over 13 years since I retired from teaching and read a book aimed towards Middle School students. I heard about it on TV and felt it worth pursuing and buying for my grandsons to read. It is about bullying. If ever there was a period in our history when a topic needs to be discussed, it is now. This is an excellent book and a fast, easy read. I can recommend it to anyone of all ages.

Rat Boy is actually Beemer who has many problems in his life. His mother recently left, and he doesn’t know why. Their home burnt down and his father is a drinker who works at a low paying job. They live in what use to be a run-down motel which is now considered apartments. They have two connecting rooms. His father, grandmother, and younger brother, Dallas, live there. It has a small refrigerator, a hot plate, and no laundry facilities, so they wash their clothes in a bath tub. You get the picture; it is a rather grim existence.

Beemer is in the 7th grade. He is a very quiet boy who has become the number one target of the bully in school by the name of Vinney who has two sidekicks that do his bidding. It is Vinney who has given him the name Rat Boy. Beemer leads a life of quiet desperation at the beginning of the book. Your heart goes out to him, and as a former teacher, I find myself wondering why the teachers aren’t more on top of this situation. But in saying that, I can look back to when I was in elementary school (years ago!) and know how little was done then, or when I first started to teach, sad to admit.

Beemer is forced to finally take a stand when his younger brother, Dallas, comes to the middle school with his class to see how things will be when he attends there next year. Beemer is an excellent “big brother” and is very worried about what Vinney will do to Dallas. Taking a stand involves getting into a fight with Vinney which brings about an interesting punishment for both of them. It also solidifies a friendship that had been in the early stages of Beemer’s life.

Since this is a book written about bullying we know it will have a happy ending. If only all of our stories could end this way. We, as adults, need to be more aware as to what is happening to our children’s and grandchildren’s lives. It is especially important today with the leadership viewed on TV that seems to support bullying and how it makes them appear as the winners.
Rating: ***

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