Weekend Pick for November 18, 2022
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I first encountered The Saturday Boy by David Fleming when my son joined his elementary school’s reading bowl team. To help him prepare for the competition, I read all of the novels on his list. This novel stood out to me then and still does now, years later. Funny, sad, poignant, and realistic - The Saturday Boy features Derek, an 11-year-old being raised by his mother and aunt while his father serves as an Apache helicopter pilot in Afghanistan.
Even though our family’s situation is very different from Derek’s, my son found the novel very relatable. Fleming depicts situations most tweens experience, such as trying to “fit in” at school, struggling with changing friendships, confronting bullies, and awkwardly transitioning from childhood to adolescence. Derek’s reactions to these situations are often impulsive, sometimes explosive, and sometimes humorous - typical for his age and, most likely, for YA readers.
For me, the most poignant aspect of this novel is Derek’s relationship with his father, which is relayed through a series of letters they exchange. In a coming-of-age moment, Derek reflects:
"I thought about…all of Dad’s letters - and how, in one way or another, they’ve
always said exactly what I needed them to. I knew which ones would make
me feel good about myself and which ones would make me feel like I could
conquer the world…our letters kept us connected."
Fleming reminds us that sometimes a simple letter, toy, or photo can become a precious keepsake when it comes to those we love. As a parent, I can definitely relate: My boys are now 17 and 19 years old; I treasure the cards they made when they were younger and all of our selfies and snapshots taken over the years.
If you’re in the mood to laugh, cry, smile, and sigh - The Saturday Boy is your perfect weekend pick!