The Plot: Mason Buttle is a large, sweaty 7th grader with a cognitive disability. His best friend died a year and a half ago under suspicious circumstances and Mason was the last person to see him. Since the incident, the police have been questioning Mason trying to piece together clues to understand how it occurred. Unfortunately Mason does not understand that they suspect that he murdered his friend.
My Take: I really enjoyed this book from the beginning because I found Mason’s voice to be authentic. The murder case propels the story forward, but the reader will also appreciate the warmth of Mason’s character and his decency in the face of his challenges. He endures social ostracism and rejection but still finds constructive activities and works on the few relationships that give back to him. A highly recommended book to middle grade readers.
One Interesting Note About the Author: According to her website, Leslie Connor was born on the floor of her family’s home — no time to get to a hospital!
Question- does Mason have a learning disability like Dyslexia or Dyscalculia or is he developmentally disabled (i.e. slow?) I ask because I’m particularly interested in any book that is narrated by a mentally disabled person, because I figure it must be particularly hard to do. Either way, I’m interested in reading this book and I enjoyed your take on it! 🙂
Your question may have hit upon one of the problems with the book. Upon first reading, my impression was that Mason has a developmental disability because, in addition to struggling with academics, he is also unable to understand that he is a suspect in a murder investigation. However, thinking about it now, Mason at most other times in the story demonstrates that he can read people and situations, is socially astute, can communicate his needs, and can develop deep relationships. So, if he does indeed suffer from a developmental disability, he is indeed high functioning. Another way of looking at Mason is that he does not have a cognitive disability, he is just neurologically different from most people. We learn at one point that Mason experiences synethesia, a phenomenon in which he can see emotions through color. To answer your question though, there are probably other books out there that would offer a better representation of a narrator with a mental disability (Mokingbird by Erskine jumps immediately to my mind). Still, I thought “Mason Buttle” was a great book. Hope you like it too! 🙂