Audiobook Review: The Boy on the Porch

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Audiobook Review: The Boy on the PorchThe Boy on the Porch by Sharon Creech
Narrator: Heather Henderson
Length: 2 hrs, 14 mins
Published by Harper Audio on September 3, 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher
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half-star

From Newbery Medal winner Sharon Creech comes a singular story that reminds us of the surprising connections that bloom when unconditional love and generosity prevail. For when a young couple finds a boy asleep on their porch, their lives take an unexpectedly joyous turn.

When John and Marta found the boy on the porch, they were curious, naturally, as to why he was there-and they didn't expect him to stay, not at first, but he did stay, day after day, until it seemed as if he belonged, running and smiling and laughing his silent laugh, tapping and patting on every surface as he made his music, and painting-with water, with paint, with mud-those swirly swirls and swings and trees.

One day a young couple wakes to find a boy asleep on their porch. Unable to speak, the boy cannot explain his history. What kind of person would leave their child with strangers? All they know is that they have been chosen to care for this boy. And as their connection to him grows, they embrace his exuberant spirit and talents. The three of them blossom into an unlikely family, and John and Marta and the boy begin to see the world in brand-new ways. Newbery Medal winner Sharon Creech delivers a poignant story of finding family when you least expect it.

Alright, first I need to explain why I read this. I picked up The Boy on the Porch at BEA in a drop, because, hey, I like middle grade. I ended up gifting it to a friend who wasn’t able to be there that day (and I’m now sorry for her, though I have been black sheepy lately, so maybe she’ll like it more). Still, when I saw the chance to review the audio, I thought I ought, because I don’t like to not review things I got at BEA. Also, I would have DNFed, but it was only 2 hours, so why not finish, right? Basically, I hated this book, and rolled my eyes at just about everything that happened.

My first issue is that, simplistic writing aside, The Boy on the Porch really doesn’t seem particularly middle grade-ish to me. It’s not really about the boy on the porch, but about the married couple who finds him. It’s views into their (mostly empty) heads. Frankly, I find them incredibly boring now, and I imagine they’d be even less interested when I was a child. Who cares about the boring adults? I would want more information about Jacob rambling around the farm, communicating with the animals. When there’s that awesome, almost magical realism-y stuff going down, what do I care about John and Marta? I DO NOT CARE.

To describe what John and Marta are like, I need to borrow some words from one of my favorite films, Blazing Saddles:

“You’ve got to remember that these are just simple farmers. These are people of the land. The common clay of the New West. You know…morons.”

As I read, this quote basically took up permanent rotation in my head. Now, I know that’s harsh and, no, I don’t think all farmers are morons or anything like that, but I happen to believe wholeheartedly that John and Marta are morons, albeit kind-hearted ones.

Evidence #1: John and Marta find a boy on their porch with a note asking them to look after him for a while until the parents or whoever left him return. They take care of him. Fair enough. However, when it’s been a week and no one’s appeared and they don’t contact the authorities, I’m sitting their twitching. If it were the PAST then you could just adopt a found waif like you would a puppy, but in modern society THIS IS ILLEGAL.

Evidence #2: They have a beagle named Beagle. Even though the note said the boy’s name is Jacob, they call him Boy. ARE YOU FREAKING SERIOUS?

Evidence #3: John belatedly tries to establish the legality of what he’s doing with the boy and goes to the police station. He asks them what would happen if he found a cow and kept it, but then the owner returned, and asks if he should have reported the cow missing. BOYS ARE NOT COWS; THE LAWS ARE DIFFERENT FOR THE TWO BUT HE DOES NOT KNOW THIS.

Evidence #4: John goes to the general store to buy things for Boy. He always ends up having to trade clothing off of his back. Maybe he’s not a farmer? DO YOU HAVE AN OCCUPATION? Why are you trading your clothing? It doesn’t seem like money’s actually an issue, so I think he’s just dumb and doesn’t think to pay with it.

Evidence #5: Jacob finds a shoe that’s too small for him and will not leave the dirty shoe where he found it. John and Marta take AGES to figure out that MAYBE this was Jacob’s shoe before he came to them. UGH.

Evidence #6: When Jacob’s dad shows up, even though he’s clearly an incompetent parent, he’s allowed to make off with the boy again. MAYBE IF YOU HAD REPORTED THAT SOME PARENT JUST DROPPED THE KID OFF WITH IDIOTIC STRANGERS, HE WOULDN’T HAVE BEEN ALLOWED TO TAKE JACOB BACK. I cannot even with these people.

Evidence #7: John and Marta take on foster children after Jacob leaves. This is admirable and the best part of the book. However, they let the first two play with hammers and nails right off. THESE CHILDREN ARE UNKNOWN QUANTITIES AND YOU GIVE THEM A HAMMER FOR A TOY? NO.

There you have it. The Boy on the Porch is an excellent choice if you like reading about boring, stupid adults. Or if you have it in you to see this as a charming fable. I do not. I will say that Henderson did a decent job with the narration; it’s not her fault I don’t like the book one bit.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

MORONS

5 responses to “Audiobook Review: The Boy on the Porch”

  1. Meg says:

    No Sharon Creech, nooooo! I say this only because Walk Two Moons was one of my childhood favorites. I read it so many times the cover fell off. Now that I think of it, I can’t remember the plot in the slightest. I think this says more about my brain than her writing, but maybe not given your feelings about The Boy On The Porch.

    BOYS ARE NOT COWS; THE LAWS ARE DIFFERENT FOR THE TWO BUT HE DOES NOT KNOW THIS. <—Lol. Actually this whole review is lol. (Lul)

    • Christina Franke says:

      Noooooo. I loved her Absolutely Normal Chaos, but yeah no. This book is a mess. I mean, the plot wasn’t my cup of tea, but seriously who do you market this to? Kids don’t care about boring adult things and adults won’t want to read something that’s so brief and simple it’s been marketed to kids.

      LUL, indeed.

  2. Reading about boring, stupid adults is the last thing I want to do. It’s a shame that this book isn’t about the boy, because that could have been a good story. I’m definitely not going to read this one.
    Mel@thedailyprophecy recently posted…FF 24. What I look for in book boyfriends.My Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      Seriously, the kid would have been a unique and interesting perspective. He was dealing with serious family issues and appeared to be a savant of some sort, but do we get any of that interesting stuff? NO. We get people who don’t know the difference between boys and cows.

  3. Brandy says:

    *APPLAUDS*

    This book made me feel the same way and it was so disappointing when you think about the work Creech used to produce. (I was disappointed with her book before this one too.) People still talk as though this may be a Newbery contender and I just can’t with that. I may cry. (A librarian friend said one of his students thinks it’s better than Walk Two Moons. ?????)
    Brandy recently posted…The Forbidden Stone (The Copernicus Legacy)My Profile

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