I’ve been featuring many books the past few months with boy protagonists. It’s not by chance as last September a parent in my neighborhood said ” I can’t find many realistic, modern day middle grade books with boy narrators.

Not a problem anymore as she has tracked down copies of…





But wait, I have one more to share. An important story about a boy who can’t pronounce his R’s. It doesn’t hit the shelves until next month (1/18) but I couldn’t wait to share.

Twelve-year-old Rory Mitchell is bullied because he has trouble with R’s and struggles with his own name. When a former friend sustains a brain injury and joins Rory in speech therapy, the two bond over heavy metal music and Muhammad Ali, and inspire each other to achieve what once seemed impossible.

Rory is one of those voices you will remember for a long time. Sixth grade and middle school can’t get much worse when a bully constantly mimics and makes fun of the way Rory talks. His former best friend avoids him all because of a big fight they had the previous spring. Brent pals around with the bully now.

Rory avoids speaking in class so not to bring attention to himself. Even when Brent has a bicycle accident with a car and sustains a serious, life changing head injury, Rory can’t feel much sympathy the way Brent has treated him.

Fortunately there is hope with the important adults Rory is lucky to have. First are the parents. They aren’t absent, divorced, or dead. They truly want the best of their son. The talks each of them have with Rory are special but also awkward.

A close second is Mr. Simms. He’s Rory’s middle school speech therapist. He tries everything to help Rory and becomes a true friend. His fun approach using music and insights from a famous boxer are beginning to work. There’s nothing easy about the process and the final pages lead up to a shared oral presentation Rory must give in front of the entire grade. Making things worse is he is paired up with Brent, who is still doing his own healing.

Heartfelt and truly one of my favorites for 2022!



  1. I’ve grown a bit tired of bullies in stories, but you’ll cringe every time Danny, the bully, enters a scene. He’s one of the worst characters and making him so obnoxious is the mark of a writer who understands character development.
  2. A small crush Rory has with a girl was realistically portrayed and it’s what happens in middle school. Exchanging notes and hesitant conversations show just how difficult this girl/boy stuff can be.
  3. Learning about Muhammad Ali and the road blocks he faced was a plus. It helped Rory see his own problem in a different way.
  4. I never had a problem with my r’s, but I learned a lot about how difficult they can be for someone like Rory. The author also adds informative and insightful notes about the R sound in the back pages.
  5. Friendships is the real focus and I loved the great ending.


Nancy Tandon has worked as an elementary school teacher, a speech-language pathologist, and an adjunct professor of phonetics and child language development. This is her first book. for more visit

Happy Holidays to one and all!

About Greg Pattridge

Climbing another mountain...always striving to reach the next peak in my life and career.
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17 Responses to THE WAY I SAY IT

  1. Sounds really good! I prefer fantasy/spec fiction to realistic MG, but this sounds worth checking out. 🙂

  2. So glad you liked this so much. I’m featuring Nancy next month and am excited to read her book.

  3. Carol Federlin Baldwin says:

    This looks like a great book. Thanks for featuring!

  4. Carol Federlin Baldwin says:

    BTW, I tried to also leave a comment on the MMGM blog too, but I had issues with the social media icons. Anyway, thanks for including me and have a Happy Holiday! “See” you next year.

  5. Susan Wroble says:

    Thanks for this review! Greg, your insights on the books that fill that need for “realistic modern day MG books with boy main characters” is likely as good as anyone’s in the country — and so I wondered if you might consider adding that (and similar) as tags to be more searchable on your site. It would be a fabulous service to your readers, and enable your lists to be more widely shared. And I loved the write-up for THE WAY I SAY IT. We had a kid with severe speech issues, and speech therapists became some of the most important people in our lives. This book looks great!

    • Hi Susan. Thanks for your great suggestion. I’ve added the tag although WordPress is being slow about accepting it. I will re-check to make sure it was added later this morning. Happy holidays!

  6. Sue Heavenrich says:

    You always have great books… and then I just HAVE to find a copy to read! This one looks great. I remember when a friend had a concussion in elem, school (bike crash) and took time to readjust language-wise.

  7. I’ve already asked my library to purchase Nancy’s book. Speech topics and stuttering are the most researched subjects on my website. So happy to see Nancy address this in a MG book. And, I can identify with the story too, as an adult. Had a brain injury years ago and had to learn to speak again. So, I have many reasons to read this book!

  8. Completely Full Bookshelf says:

    I appreciate you sharing all of these books with boy protagonists—honestly, it often felt as a kid like the only boy protagonists in realistic MG books were deeply irritating (that is obviously not an empirical observation, but still, that’s how it felt), so I would have appreciated these reads as a kid too! This sounds like a really meaningful story about speech issues, friendship trouble, and how you might actually respond when something awful happens to someone you already dislike. I appreciate the thoughtful review, Greg, and happy holidays—see you in 2022 for more MMGM!

  9. msyingling says:

    I think that if you read enough middle grade, you will get VERY tired of bullies. I’d love to see a well written bully, who was sneaky and underhanded, but they are always just senselessly violent and obvious. Did like the speech issues. My blog started out in 2006 as a resource for books for boys, but then the current line of thought that there were no “boy books or girl books” emerged, so I can’t say that any more. Obviously, the people saying this have never tried to hand Hamster Princess to a 6th grade boy. I’m looking forward to having this title, since I have seen students with this speech issue! Have a happy holiday!

  10. This sounds like a good book! I did have a little stutter when I was young but grew out of it before I was unleashed into the world of school (for which I am thankful with regards to bullying part of life).

    I also love watching some of my favorite historical presenters. Quite a few of them can’t say certain letters and I smile every time thinking: “Hey, these are Professional Presenters for the BBC! Bravo for NOT letting a speech impediment stop you from bringing the joy of history to the world!!”

  11. I’m putting this one on my TBR list. You make it sound great. It is always nice to have solid adults to help kids figure things out, and an intact family is a treat. Thanks for the review.

  12. Nancy Tandon says:

    Happy New Year, Greg — I’m starting my year off with appreciation for your thoughtful review of THE WAY I SAY IT! 🤗 As a long time reader of your blog, it feels surreal and awesome to see my book featured here. Thanks for all you do to highlight middle grade!

    • Thanks Nancy. I passed my copy of the book along to a young reader who is loving the story you created. Have a great year and I’m looking forward to your guest post next week on Literary Rambles.

  13. Antoinette Truglio Martin says:

    Ahh/r/ therapy…as a speech therapist, I know how difficult those blends and prevocalic /r/s can be for may kids. It’s good see the subject addressed.

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