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Ollie Come Free
Timothy Patrick, illus. by Ujala Shahid. Country Scribbler, $13.99 paper (316p) ISBN 978-0-9893544-7-9
When white goofball Ollie Buckmeyer, 11, is struck by lightning at a Little League game in 1991, what ensues is a series of fast-paced, heart-rending vignettes about a family trying to hold itself together despite complicated circumstances. Left with a traumatic brain injury and acquired savantism, Ollie returns from the hospital a completely different person, and must cope with losing the girl he loved and the life he once led. Ollie pours his soul into his drawings—but there are those who would take advantage of him, like his impulsive, ill-intentioned brother Cody. Shahid’s b&w illustrations, representing Ollie’s art, add an immersive quality, but readers never get to hear from the titular character himself. Varied, shifting perspectives center mostly adult characters, except for Cody, with the most riveting point-of-view being his mother Cathy’s emotional story line, as she witnesses the changes in her son and others’ treatment of him. Interweaving muddled dreams, flashbacks, speculations, and musings, Patrick features bonds broken, reformed, and healed, as each of the characters searches for a support system in the wake of this tragedy, and looks for the good in the person Ollie has now become. Ages 14–up. (Self-published)

Reviewed by Publishers Weekly on 08/06/2021

Release date 06/07/2021

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