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Download The Paper Cowboy Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample The Paper Cowboy, by Kristin Levine Click for printable size audiobook cover
0 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 5 0.00 (0 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Kristin Levine Narrator: Lincoln Hopp Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Though he thinks of himself as a cowboy, Tommy is really a bully. He’s always playing cruel jokes on classmates or stealing from the store. But Tommy has a reason: life at home is tough. His abusive mother isn’t well; in fact, she may be mentally ill, and his sister, Mary Lou, is in the hospital badly burned from doing a chore it was really Tommy’s turn to do. To make amends, Tommy takes over Mary Lou’s paper route. But the paper route also becomes the perfect way for Tommy to investigate his neighbors after stumbling across a copy of the Daily Worker, a communist newspaper.

Tommy is shocked to learn that one of his neighbors could be a communist, and soon fear of a communist in this tight-knit community takes hold of everyone when Tommy uses the paper to frame a store owner, Mr. McKenzie. As Mr. McKenzie’s business slowly falls apart and Mary Lou doesn’t seem to get any better, Tommy’s mother’s abuse gets worse—causing Tommy’s bullying to spiral out of control.

Poignantly written, Kristin Levine proves herself a master of gripping and affecting historical fiction.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Tommy’s struggle to bring his family together ends up bringing the whole community together. His journey is filled with many lessons for young readers and many historically accurate portrayals of life at that time… the lessons—acceptance of others, coming together to help others, forgiveness, and coping with mental illness—are well worth teaching.”


  • “A thoughtful story about understanding and compassion, distinguished by complex characters and a supportive, tight-knit community.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “A sophisticated, powerful story about a community’s ability to help one another out, and the paper cowboy who helps bring them together.”

    Booklist (starred review)

  • “A winningly authentic, realistic, and heartwarming family drama.”

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

  • “Levine deftly captures a time period filled with an overarching paranoia and small-town life filled with tensions on many levels.”

    School Library Journal

  • “Narrator Lincoln Hoppe is the voice of twelve-year-old Tommy, who is growing up in a small Midwestern town during the height of McCarthyism and the Red Scare. Tommy sees himself as a cowboy. His parents view him as a disappointment. Teachers perceive him as a polite, nice-looking, smart student. His classmates, however, know him as the bully he is. Hoppe uses a steady, unembellished delivery to get inside the head of this complex boy, letting us see that the bully is often as injured as his victims. The story—although burdened with preachiness and too many issues wrapped up too neatly—is compelling as Tommy develops awareness and responsibility for his actions, finding ways to atone while bringing his community together.”


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