Saint John Don Bosco:

"Never read books you aren't sure about . . . even supposing that these bad books are very well written from a literary point of view. Let me ask you this: Would you drink something you knew was poisoned just because it was offered to you in a golden cup?"




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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Petey by Ben Mikaelsen

Imagine... a mother just gives birth and sadly cuddles her quiet baby in a room far too quiet. Her baby is still and her heart is heavy after learning of his severe birth defects.

You in?

I am.

After receiving another professional opinion that their child is an "idiot," the family reluctantly gives Petey up to the state after 2 yrs of caring for him with no support... a situation that causes sleep-deprivation and serious family-stress.

It is sobering and heart-wrenching to realize that Petey's mind is actually fine; his deformities caused by a severe form of cerebral palsy. Believing his mind to be a reflection of his body, he is committed to an insane asylum for all of his youth and young adult life.

Petey maintains an attitude of essential kindness and appreciation of the meager good that life offers him despite horribly unfair circumstances.

Petey's story is told in despair-defying intervals of caretakers who come into Petey's life and recognize the intelligence hidden behind his birth defects. For every insensitive, frightened person who mocks or avoids Petey, there is a character who upholds the dignity and sanctity of his humanity and brings sparks of hope and joy to Petey's environment.

Interestingly enough, the state, with its poor understanding of birth defects, grows in awareness of treatment over the course of Petey's life, yet, accurately enough, in Petey's old-age, has become so immersed in a Culture of Death, that while offering better diagnoses and treatments, its citizens are ready and willing to let Petey die off without treatment when he gets sick. It takes the rallying efforts of those who have recognized his humanity and gifts in his deformed state to get the doctors of the culture-of-death to rally to save Petey as readily as they would an elderly, non-cerebral-palsy patient.

I would caution parents to read Chapter 11 before deciding if the book is appropriate for their tween. This chapter deals with a young-adult Petey who falls in love with a lovely young lady who comes to work at his asylum. She is married; her husband is at war, and she romantically feels for Petey, recognizing the handsome man beyond his deformed appearance. While handled delicately, it is a heavy theme. Older would be better here, though the book is marketed to mid and younger tweens.

The only other issue I had was when a teen named Trevor, who befriends Petey, refers to an issue he has with his parents. He brings home an old friend of Petey's. He did not have time to get permission, and the friend is mentally slow. While Trevor has the moral high ground, as his parents would likely be uncomfortable and say no, Trevor does it anyway with the comment that "forgiveness is easier to ask for than permission." Moral high ground or not, that does skirt a little too close to the sin of presumption... see reference at the end...

Safety Rating: 2 Flags

See: Catechism of the Catholic Church: Presumption 2092

2 comments:

Maria José Figueiredo November 30, 2010 at 6:18 AM  

Hi, I've just come accross your blog and it's been tremendously helpful. Do you know of blogs like yours but for adults? Thank you (for this and also for your blog that I'll be visiting frequently),
Maria

Tween Lit Crit November 30, 2010 at 6:42 PM  

Hi Maria,
I only know of Catholic Media Review, which has good reviews but they aren't just of books. I'm glad you've found the blog helpful; I'll keep my eye out for adult book review sites...

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