Kin Platt John Gillespie - Essay

John Gillespie

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[The Boy Who Could Make Himself Disappear is an] unusual and disturbing novel which is apt to be controversial because of its theme and the way in which that theme is developed. The central character is seventh-grader Roger Baxter, handicapped by a severe speech impediment which resulted from a childhood accident and has been compounded by emotional problems with his parents, who have just been divorced and are both indifferent to the boy's welfare…. The novel ends on a faintly hopeful note when Roger, now in a mental hospital, makes tentative contact with someone who wants to help him. The reading is not easy; the author uses many flashbacks, and some passages verge on stream-of-consciousness. Nor is the book without flaws—Roger's mother, for example, seems at times unbelievably heartless. But in its painful honesty, this, like the YA favorite, [Hannah Green's] I Never Promised You a Rose Garden, is a book that will remain with thoughtful young people long after it is read.

John Gillespie, in his review of "The Boy Who Could Make Himself Disappear," in School Library Journal, an appendix to Library Journal (reprinted from the October, 1968 issue of School Library Journal, published by R. R. Bowker Co./A Xerox Corporation; copyright © 1968), Vol. 15, No. 2, October, 1968, p. 172.