Read by S. Epatha Merkerson
Synopsis: Jeffrey Lionel "Maniac" Magee might have lived a normal life if a freak accident hadn't made him an orphan. After living with his unhappy and uptight aunt and uncle for eight years, he decides to run--and not just run away, but run. This is where the myth of Maniac Magee begins, as he changes the lives of a racially divided small town with his amazing and legendary feats.
My Thoughts: I've enjoyed Jerry Spinelli's books before and I was looking forward to this one. I had no idea what it was about since I simply checked it out only because it was available and it was a Spinelli book. I have to say, this took me longer to "read" then I expected.
The story dealt with many emotions- especially when it came to homelessness and race. The idea of an orphaned boy who ran away from his dysfunctional guardians only to run (literally) for days had me think of Forest Gump. Though this was supposed to be realistic fiction, I could not help but think of it of having elements of fantasy. How could a person, kid or adult, run without stopping for days? That idea was fascinating. Next, this story took place in early 20th century for it really talked about racial issues. It was very interesting to see how the main character was oblivious to skin color yet he was the perfect outcast to witness how racial prejudice existed. I also liked how the author did not just point fingers to only one group, but it was both groups who were making these judgements.
This book had many strong points but it did lose me a few times. Why? It was very confusing. Because Maniac Magee kept running, the story wasn't stable. It kept going from place to place, which caused me to lose track as to what was going on and who the characters were. I even found myself drifting off a few times because I couldn't concentrate on the plot.
However, the audio presentation was pretty good. S. Epatha Merkerson did a great job in portraying the characters. The emotions were there and so were the accents. If it wasn't for her, I would have taken even longer in finishing this book.
As a whole, this was a decent book. I found it interesting but confusing. It's a great book to introduce children to the issues of being homeless and of race. I rate it: