Speechless

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 27 Nov 2018

Member Reviews

Grief is a complicated thing. Especially when you didn't particularly like the deceased person. Schmitt takes the reader through those complex emotions in a darkly humorous, often uncomfortable, but ultimately edifying way.
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I found Speechless to be one of those unexpected books. Instead of being this soft, sweet look at grief, it has this very frank, unapologetic look at some of the uglier stuff that a family goes through in a bad situation like this. Jimmy didn’t have a good relationship with his cousin Patrick. In fact, he can’t remember a single time Patrick did something admirable or noble. But there’s no way his parents will let him out of giving a speech, so Jimmy sifts back through his memories desperately looking for something he can share which will help his grieving family.

As he looks back, he notices some big dysfunctional patterns, which really doesn’t help him in terms of finding something positive to say. It really only makes him more resentful and full of dread about having to speak.
But as Jimmy’s memories and lessons learned come together, he realizes some important truths. And while the truth may not be pretty, he finds a way to share it that opens a door for healing within his family.

I enjoyed the frank way Jimmy relates his memories and the fact that he doesn’t give up on figuring out what to say, even though speaking is the last thing he wants to do, and he feels like it really isn’t fair. It’s not easy to convey a family with issues as openly as Schmitt does and still preserve the sense of family, especially through a young narrator. I definitely feel like it’s a good read for later elementary-aged readers or anyone who’s been through a complex family loss.
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Captivating, suspenseful, entertaining novel! This beautiful story kept me on the edge of my seat while I was reading it! Would highly recommend to those who enjoy this genre.
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Great book. Compelling characters. I am a television/ film producer. This story isn't the right fit for my buyers, but I very much enjoyed the read. Thank you.
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Title provided via netgalley.

Wow. I knew something about the blurb got me to request this. Middle grade books are an interesting range to read. You get more real, and real life in books meant for 12 year olds than you do in teen or adult. Which says a lot in so maaaaaany way.

Jimmy doesn't like his cousin Patrick because he ruins everything. That's all his memories contain. Then the day of his funeral, all he can remember is how Patrick broke and ruined everything. It's this one agonizing thought that plagues him as he is forced to give the eulogy for his cousin.

This couple hundred page book takes place in one single day during the wake for his cousin. It's really hard to do that without the story seeming slow, or too fast, but the flashbacks as Jimmy prepares for to the eulogy really gives a unique and distinct context to Jimmy, Patrick and their family dynamic. It is a hard read in the subject content but I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed the book. So much so that I read it straight through. 

I highly reccomend this because of how the author reveals what listening actually entails and what can happen when you don't. Great story.
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The last place Jimmy wants to be is at his cousin Patrick’s wake. Add in the fact he’s wearing last year’s outgrown dress pants and he’s about as uncomfortable as possible. That is until things get worse when his mother informs him he’ll be making a speech at Patrick’s funeral. Why him? And what can he say about Patrick, the kid who seemed to ruin everything?

Author Adam Schmitt deserves tremendous credit for tapping into such a natural voice of a thirteen-year-old boy. Jimmy is quirky, complicated, and completely believable. In many cases, I was reminded of myself at that age, which was heightened by the first-person prose. It’s impossible not to feel close to Jimmy, and his struggle of just being able to find the right words is both compelling and touching.

Of course, Patrick lurks over the action right from the opening pages. As Jimmy considers his speech, each chapter has a vignette featuring Patrick. At the beginning, he’s rambunctious and destructive and these scenes would raise the blood pressure of even the most patient person. However, Schmitt shows some pretty remarkable skill in the structure of this book. I don’t want to spoil anything, but this book is a beautiful blend of pace and progression. 

I’m not exaggerating when I say the last couple of chapters had me in tears. 

Schmitt does not shy away from some seriously harsh realities, particularly with family relationships. We don’t get to pick our families that can lead to conflicting personalities, even when (or perhaps because) there are often abundant similarities. Jimmy clashes with Patrick, his parents, and the chaos around them. In these moments, the frustration is palpable. But ultimately, it’s also family that provides him the necessary understanding.

In kidlit, there’s often a discussion of quieter novels and their place in the canon. Speechless straddles that line. Jimmy is a deeply funny narrator navigating a world filled with uproar. However, it’s also deeply introspective with incredible subtlety as it deals with the serious concepts of death and reflection. The result is a powerfully profound debut novel with heart.
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Jimmy is a 13 yr old boy who’s cousin, Patrick, also 13, has recently died and Jimmy is asked to say a few words at the funeral. Jimmy is consumed by the thought of speaking in front of people at the funeral, on top of that, he’s never liked his bully of a cousin! Most of the story Jimmy is reflecting on memories he has with his cousin Patrick in search of a pleasant one he can share at the funeral.

Jimmy relives several silly and unfortunate memories and he’s left with the realization that he has nothing positive to say about his cousin. What should he do?

I think we all know that troubled kid, who bullies and causes conflict every where they turn up. They have problems at home, at school, and don’t really fit in anywhere.

I won’t give away what happens, but this lighthearted story has a powerful message, one we all need to hear. 

I really enjoyed this middle grade story, even though the topic was a bit heavy it was well written and thought provoking.❤️ This story deals with bullying, death, grief, suicide and family relationships. These topics are all introduced through the lighthearted perspective of a 13 year old boy.

I received this advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review, and all opinions are my own. This book will be published November 6, 2018, go check it out!
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Speechless by Adam Schmitt was an intriguing J Read. Jimmy's cousin Patrick has tragically died, and he's been asked to deliver the eulogy. Here's the deal though y'all - Jimmy is 13, and his cousin is a total jerk. I'll own that the premise of this one was one I was initially a bit unsure of. What teenager would be put in this situation? However, as the story went, I really liked this as the vehicle to understand the complexities of teenage feelings and family relationships. Throughout, Jimmy reflects to try to figure out just what to say. In addition, he's managing the variety of emotions that show up at Patrick's wake with different folks. In the end, Jimmy finds his voice in a very unexpected way. Looking at this as a J read, I think it would give kids lots to consider about how to understand and relate to those people in our lives who we don't always connect with well. This was yet another book I was able to check out thanks to NetGalley, and it's one that will make you think. It's worth checking out when it's released in November.
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This is a story about Jimmy, a 13 year old boy who is attending his first wake which is for his cousin Patrick. He is informed that he will be giving the eulogy for his cousin who was the same age as him. What complicates the matter is that he can’t think of anything nice to say because he really struggled to get along with him. The author does a nice job at describing the various family members who attend the wake along with their unique character flaws. The reader gets a clear picture of the scene and may be able to relate to some of the many people described. I know I saw my own aunt in one of the feisty women attending the services. And many will relate to the secret code moms use to communicate without any words as they let their kids know they don’t approve. There is plenty of humor – especially the wardrobe issues that present a problem while worrying about his speech!

Jimmy struggles with what words to say as the relationship with his cousin was not always pleasant. Throughout the evening of reflecting on his time with his cousin, He finds it difficult to find something, anything, to say! We get a glimpse of what his cousin’s family life may have been like including the difficulty his parents may have had during some of the more challenging events described. There are plenty of opportunities for the reader to make inferences about what led to the strained relationship, the struggles with the behaviors, and the feelings involved. This is a great book to read as a group. The story deals with a sensitive topic in a very realistic manner. There is no fearful approach to the topic. I recommend this book.

I read an advanced copy through Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.
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13-year-old Jimmy remembers his relationship with his cousin when he is forced to speak at his wake.  This is not an easy task, as Jimmy felt he had nothing in common with his cousin Patrick.  In fact, Jimmy believed that Patrick hated him his whole life.  But as Jimmy recalls the time spent with his cousin, he slowly realizes that perhaps he did have more in common with Patrick than he thought and through this process, he learns more about himself and his family.

Speechless was a book the kept me engaged and it was so well written, that I probably could have read the book in one sitting!  Every chapter introduces a new memory, as Jimmy struggles to find the right one that doesn’t end with Patrick losing his temper or destroying something.  What I enjoyed the most about the book was the little bits of humor that the author sprinkles in to lighten up the theme of a teenager’s death.  The book begins with Jimmy talking about his uncomfortable dress pants and those pants end up haunting him throughout the book.  I also enjoyed how every memory that Jimmy thought about offered a small nugget as to who Patrick really was, especially since his poor behavior overshadowed his intentions most of the time.  This book was definitely a tear-jerker, so make sure to have tissues at the ready!

Fans of Wonder by RJ Palacio, Fish in a Tree by Linda Mullaly Hunt or Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli will enjoy this book.   Thought provoking, honest, and heart breaking, Speechless by Adam Schmitt is a book middle graders shouldn’t miss.

Thank you to NetGalley and Candlewick Press for allowing me to read this E-ARC.
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Link:  https://www.thepagewalker.com/2018/10/book-review-speechless-by-adam-p-schmitt.html
October 24, 2018

I highly recommend this book.

Jimmy is at his first wake. If that isn’t shocking enough for a 13-year old boy, he was just informed that tomorrow he has to deliver his first eulogy. His first. In front of everyone in a church full of grieving people. He tried every pleading to get away from it, but shot down every time.

Jimmy’s been racking his brains for what to say about his cousin, Patrick, if there’s anything good at all. Searching, he recalled every special moment his cousin had somehow wrecked. All his 13 years, he had to put up with Patrick. So, giving this eulogy is not merely nerve-racking for Jimmy, it is an imposition. An imposition preceded by so many before it. It made him angry and defiant. It made him question his family. It made him realize who Patrick was. And how they aren’t so different after all.

One of the many reasons I love Middle-Grade books is that they give me a whole new set of lenses to look through. Viewing things from a child’s perspective is always unique and reawakening. Giving a eulogy for an unlikable person who died is a very unusual subject for children, but induces a profound awareness for any reader –including parents, relatives, friends, even for educators.

SPEECHLESS is a very well-written, memorable story.
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I don't know what all I can say about this book.  It brought out very real emotions in me.  Anger, sadness, happiness.  Emotions ran the gamut and for that alone it is worth a read.  For a middle grade read this was tough.  But I feel there are plenty of kids out there who would be able to relate to Jimmy or even Patrick.  I can't say that I would ever reread this as it made me so angry in the beginning.  But it evoked tears at the end and I can say that it is definitely worth a read.  Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for allowing me to read an advanced copy.
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There is a reason I like middle year books with a new zeal. The way the stories unfold from the eyes of a child is fresh , honest and heartfelt. 

This story is of Jimmy who has to look back his relationship with his cousin Patrick and to deliver a goodbye speech at his funeral. This is a learning and a reminder for us to know and be honest in our dealings with family and to be there to support each other in a constructive way and not to be left regretting the loss later. 

This book gave my heart a pull at all the right places.
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Very funny and surprisingly emotional. The narrative structure was very interesting and unique. Will definitely recommend to my library patrons.
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This book was so well done. 

I’ve been trying to think of how to depict just how thoughtful this story has been told in but I feel like my words wouldn’t do it justice. This gives the reader a look into what it’s like to lose someone in your family and as you and everyone around you are grieving this loss, sometimes you just don’t know what to say. I appreciated the flashbacks Jimmy has as he remembers his cousin because as you’re reading about what they have done together, sometimes (at least in my reading experience) you forget that he’s really gone. 

I really enjoyed this book and how real it felt and I can’t recommend giving it a read for yourself enough!

Thank you to NetGalley and Candlewick Press for allowing me to read this book in exchange for a honest review.
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Thirteen-year-old Jimmy is headed to a wake, something he's not familiar or comfortable with. But it's not just his thirteen-year-old cousin's wake that's making him uncomfortable, Jimmy is squeezed into last year's dress pants! It seems everything is closing in on his comfort zone.

While there, his mom delivers some unsettling news: his aunt has requested that he say a few words about Patrick, his cousin, at the funeral the next day. What! He's doesn't feel good about being at the wake or funeral, and now he's sick over having to give a "speech."

Jimmy has lots of time to reflect on his cousin at the wake. But almost every memory brings back extremely bad thoughts regarding Patrick since his cousin managed to ruin almost every family event. While Jimmy is walking around thinking about the speech, he meets many somewhat exaggerated people that most of us can relate to at a funeral. Is it funny at times? Definitely. Is it sad? Absolutely.  It is with rising panic that Jimmy continues to try to recall something positive about Patrick to share at the funeral, but can he?

It's not until Jimmy's standing at the microphone the next day that he (and the reader) have any idea what he will talk about.

My Thoughts

What Concerned Me: Wow. The whole time I was reading this book I was trying to figure out what to write in a review. If your child will be bothered by these topics, death, wakes, funerals, then I would pass on it. But if that's a go, then what can be gained outweighs my concerns.

What I Liked Most: This story looks at grief through many windows. There are family concerns, difficult people, people with quirks, funny people, grumpy people, people who make mistakes, and more. It's a story that at times you may wonder where it's taking you, but you keep reading. 

The topic of an unlikable person who has died, a cousin racking his brain for positive thoughts, is definitely unique, but one that is handled in such a way that I would recommend this story for mature kids. It's a book that's hard to put down and then hard to stop thinking about.

I've struggled to rate this book; I think you'll either love it, or the topic won't appeal to you.
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Thirteen-year-old Jimmy has to give an eulogy at his cousin Patrick's funeral. Unfortunately, he can't think of anything nice to say about him; Patrick was an uncontrollable, violent kid who basically ruined everything he touched. But of course, things aren't always what they seem, and while trying to come up with a speech during the evening wake and the morning of the funeral, Jimmy discovers some important life lessons.
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