Book Review: Belle Prater’s Boy

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In October 1953, Belle Prater, a mother to Woodrow and Gypsy’s aunt, disappeared without a trace. As they lived in a very small town, news travel fast and soon, everyone in Coal Station, Virginia, heard about the news. When she still didn’t show up after 6 months, Belle’s family decided to take Woodrow to live with them as his father wasn’t taking a very good care of his son.

Slowly, Gypsy came to know more about her Aunt. Gypsy’s grandmother explained that they named her Belle Ball because they hoped that she would be the belle of every ball. Sadly, it didn’t happen. Love was the belle of every single ball, and Belle was always living in Love’s shadow, with people constantly comparing her to her beautiful sister. As if that wasn’t bad enough, her lover, Amos Leemaster, fell in love with Love as soon as they met and decided to marry Love instead of Belle. It hurts Belle so much she decided to leave home and a week later, she sent word saying that she was married. Seeing her sister and the guy she loved together everyday was just too painful for her. According to Woodrow, his mother had gone through so much pain and sadness that she finally decided to leave her life behind and insisted that his mother wasn’t really missing, she just went to explore a new world. Porter Dotson, Gypsy’s stepfather, told Gypsy that Belle did not really disappear, she just went away to try to find herself again.

Through all the ups and downs, Woodrow and Gypsy became close. They would tell jokes to each other and have each others’ back. When Gypsy felt uncomfortable with someone asking or talking about her dad, Woodrow would help change the subject, and when someone mentioned about the disappearance of Belle Prater or tease him, Gypsy would help change the subject too. They confide in each other and Woodrow would share his theories about his mother’s disappearance to Gypsy.

The story ended with Woodrow and Gypsy sitting on a tree house, watching the dawn come on October 11, exactly a year after Aunt Belle’s disappearance. Woodrow informed Gypsy with one more information that he had never told anyone before, not even to the sheriff: some of his shirts, pants, socks, shoes, and cap were missing, and the reason why his mother was never found was because she was dressed as a boy when she left so that no one would recognize her.

My positive thoughts on the book:

  1. I have to say, Ruth White did a great job at describing the characters and bringing the story to life. Throughout the story, I can’t help but also feel the feelings that the characters were feeling. This is a light-reading book, and reading this book has been a fun work.
  2. This book is very heartwarming, and I feel like there is one moral that we can pick up from the story: Appearances can be deceiving. Woodrow was cross-eyed, but he is a very talented story teller and has plenty of good jokes to share with others. Gypsy was a pretty girl, but behind her pretty face, she had a deep scar inside her. Despite all those pain and sadness, they managed to stand up again and live a happy, cheerful life. I have to say, Woodrow and Gypsy were such a sweet characters.

“Therefore,” Woodrow concluded the reading of his English assignment, “it is my belief that Blind Benny, even with his poor sightless eye, is the only person I know who can see with perfect clarity. Because Benny is able to see beyond appearances.” 

The extract above is just one of the examples of how sweet Woodrow and Gypsy can be.

What I don’t really like about this book:

  1. As can be seen from the cover, there is one sentence that said: “One Sunday morning, Belle Prater disappeared.” I thought the book would be about mystery and how the characters come up with solutions to solve the problem, but I was wrong. The content is  more about how the characters “deal” with the mysteries. I’m not saying that the story is bad, but when I picked up this book, I was craving to read mystery stories, and so I was a teeny tiny bit disappointed when there was so little mystery in this book.

But, well, there’s a sequel to this book! I hope I would have the chance to read “The Search for Belle Prater” and I hope the mystery about Woodrow’s mother would be solve.

So, those are all my thoughts on this book! Overall, I give this book a 9/10. What about you? What are your thoughts on this book?




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