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All He Knew

All He Knew - Helen Frost

I started to get all frustrated and concerned as I began reading this book. I felt so helpless as I read about Henry. He had begun his life alone and misunderstood. The label they slapped on him, became a wall. I felt some relief that Molly had never forgotten her brother, although he wasn’t living with her. She loved him whether he was physically present or not. The author’s creative way of expressing this factual event makes this a very powerful story.

Henry was four when he becomes deaf after falling ill. They had hoped that Henry could get his education at the State School for the Deaf. Needing to pass a test, Henry arrives for the test but he is unable to understand the tests’ directions. Failing the test, he can’t attend the state school and they label Henry, “unteachable.” With WWII on the horizon, they soon decide to place him in Riverview, a school for mentally disabled individuals. Talk about sad! Little time and effort are spent on the patients and Henry sinks further down. If I could just reach into this book and grab him out, I and I think plenty other readers would have.

As I read Henry’s thoughts, his hopes and his sadness, it’s beyond sad. I’m wondering how the other patients feel about life in Riverview. Molly is the only bright spot until I hear Victor’s footsteps mark the halls of Riverview. Is Victor a real person or is he an angel? Where did he come from? It’s sad to think that, finally one professional, seems to care.

With short chapters, this true event story is a story that will definitely make your think. Told through verse, it’s a fast read about this time period in history. 4.5 stars