Tenderness. As a reader, I felt surge after surge of tenderness toward this 14-year-old young man, emotionally and physically abused by a few, supported and understood and nurtured by many. And, so tenacious, so strong, and so smart, not to mention, so talented. Yes, Schmidt did create a character that is much larger than life whose story would have been implausible or unbelievable. In Schmidt’s apt hand, however, with genuine emotions and a large dosage of wit, Doug’s 8th grade year in Marysville feels archetypal and heroic. Like the Audubon paintings that serve as the scaffolding for the plot, the artistic stitchings and planning for the storytelling are visible every step of the way, and yet the final outcome is a pure force of nature. How does one explain it except that the story obviously came from both deep within a compassionate heart and a practiced and diligent hand.