The Boy From the Basement

The Boy From the Basement

by Susan Shaw

Paperback(Mass Market Paperback - Reprint)

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780142405468
Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date: 02/02/2006
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 208
Sales rank: 520,168
Product dimensions: 4.30(w) x 7.00(h) x 0.60(d)
Age Range: 12 Years

About the Author

Susan Shaw works as a music educator and is the author of one previous book for young readers. She lives with her family near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Read an Excerpt

The staircase creaks again. A couple of words I don't understand rumble to Mother as Father walks through the dining room. A soft answer from her, the scuff of footsteps from the carpet to the kitchen tiles, and Father's at his desk. Right on the other side of the door at the top of the basement steps. An invisible but uncuttable line attached to him pulls on my chest. I crawl up the steps and touch the door. He must know I'm here.

I want to call him. Father! Do you feel me like I feel you? Is it hard for you to work knowing there's only a door between us? You would see me if you opened it. True and real. You could hear me breathe like I hear you -- if you tried. Is it hard not to open the door and say, "Charlie, come on up!"?

It has to be as hard for him as it is for me. So I don't call. I crawl down again -- silently. I have to wait until he says it's time. That's what he told me. I have learned to believe what he says.

I sit back on the floor, lean against the bottom step. The spider on the ceiling above me spins her web. How she takes her time! After all, why hurry? She's not going anywhere. As long as she doesn't weave a web to catch me -- that idea always lurks in the back of my mind. On my good days, I know I'm too big for her to want, but still I worry. As long as she has smaller things to catch, I'm all right.

She swells up while I look, then flattens down again so I can hardly see her. How did she do that? I watch to see if she'll do it again, but she doesn't. Then right as I turn my head, I see her puff up once more out of the corner of my eye. When I turn my head, though, it's like nothing happened. The spider taunts me with her sameness. I watch a long time this time, but she doesn't move at all.

I hear the leaves shifting under the wind, losing myself in the rolling, shhshhing sound.

I pick up my pencils from behind the steps. Mother sticks them under the door once in a while. Sharpens them for me sometimes. There's paper behind the steps, too -- old computer paper left by the people who lived here before. Stacks of it.

I feel the ridges in the wood of a pencil, touch the marks stamped in the yellow paint, let the blackness transfer from the point and stain my fingertips. Then I slide a paper into a patch of sunlight trapped by the window well and draw. I've drawn everything in the basement over and over -- the furnace, the water heater, the old red wagon with two wheels missing, and the gray clothesline still dotted with clothespins. All from the people who lived here before us.

I feel myself at the kitchen table when I draw, and it's the way things used to be. I'm there. Mother and Father work, and I draw -- there. But when the drawing ends, the table goes, and I am still, still here.

Today, I draw random lines without thinking too much about what it is. Like the spider, I'm in no hurry. There's plenty of time.

But right now, I don't feel like drawing. I'm tired of the endless stretch of time. I've been down here so long, and I don't feel real good. When is Father going to let me upstairs again? When will my punishment be over?

Was what I did this bad?

I drop my pencil and roll onto my back. I'm sick of drawing.

The spider's up on the ceiling, as always. Dark red with black markings like two bent fingers facing each other. And a bunch of black legs busy, always busy. The spider's head turns to look down. Father's face bulges out at me. I blink. No. It's only the spider. Father's upstairs, of course. What made my eyes play that trick?

After I lie here for a while, I begin to shiver. I'm colder suddenly. I pull the towel around me. Then I'm too hot, sweating, even. I blot my sweat with the towel, but that takes too much energy. So I just sweat, feeling the gathering liquid drip onto the floor. I'm cold again.

What's happening? I can't be sick. Can't. There's no extra energy for that. Only for just making it through the day.

Drowsiness creeps over me, and my body feels heavy, ready to sink into the floor. I gladly give in to sleep, the sweetest time taker. . . .

I wake up, holding onto the shield of sleep until I can no longer pretend. I'm still sick, and the presence of the spider and her web is strong. She's going to get me, and I'm afraid, so afraid.

Sick with a terrible thirst, and scared, scared.

Calm, Charlie -- stay calm. No energy to be upset. Don't have any to waste.

I lie still and wait. Upstairs, a clock chimes. I count four. Count five. Count six.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"Shaw’s simple language and sentence structure effectively contribute to the realism of her psychological tale….This affecting, ultimately uplifting examination of a boy’s recovery from extreme child abuse is a stunner and certain to attract readers." —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

Customer Reviews

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The Boy from the Basement 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I personally thought that this book was really good and needed to have a bit more to the story like more thought into the character of the father and a bit more information about the punishment and what he did exactly to deserve this punishment.More information is needed on Charlie in his younger years like if his father was always like this or not.
justablondemoment on LibraryThing 10 months ago
Really good book. Was a little hard to get past the writing style and I had to remind myself often that this book was written and intended for the juvenile audience. I was just expecting it to be a little more as I had found it in the Young Adult section at my library and that is a section that gears more to high school. But while reading if you keep in mind the age it was intended for it was good at its message that abuse is never okay.
emcnellis16 on LibraryThing 10 months ago
This book as marketed as young adult - although the subject matter may be a little too sensitive for some.In the novel, we see the world through Charlie's eyes - those of a severely neglected and abused young boy. We travel with him as he realizes he has missed out on the simple joys of life - rain, sunshine, and love. Charlie must confront his fears along the way, but he is guided by new friends, a loving foster mother, and a strong zest for life.If you are looking for an attention-grabber for your older teen, this may just be it!
ERMSMediaCenter on LibraryThing 10 months ago
Charlie, a twelve-year-old boy who has been confined to his basement by his abusive, psychotic father, is accidently locked out after sneaking outside one night, and ends up in the hospital where he gets the attention he needs and a new start in life.
mspioneer on LibraryThing 10 months ago
This kid name Charlie is living i the basement because is dad said that was his punishment. One day Charlie got out of basement when his parents want to bed. He was looking for something to eat and he wanna go to the bathroom but it was locked so he said to go outside. When he want out he felt free. When was done the door closed on him and he was locked out. He didnt know what to do. He thought this big thing was chasing him and he run to the light. He thought what is father going to think when he wakes up and im not there.He fell asleep and when he woke up there was so many people around him and he didnt know what to do. The cops came and he was he this weird places. He thought his parents sent him there for his punishment. Later he was living with some different people and there names were Mrs.H and Ambrose, and they were like his new family and he liked it but he still missed his parents. - Caitlyn Hister
DHS-SECOVAUS-0_0 More than 1 year ago
This book is for everybody who loves drama, would recommend for teens and adults. It had a strong emotion for the story that changes itself all the time. Anybody could say that this book moved me, but instead it inspired me. This book made me stronger person inside and outside, with better personality. Yes, I would read more interesting books, by this amazing, wonderful arthur. Thats it.
Modern_Reader3 More than 1 year ago
A solid story of the 'ol abused child. Much contrast to the classic " a boy called it" but with a twist. After being locked up all his life in the basement, hes exposed to the outside world which poses many mental and phisical problems. after a long visit in a hospital he is put with a much better family that opens his eyes in order to realize the wrong his parents did. Very good book that would definatley belong on your book shelf.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is short and simple, even more so since it's told from the perspective of a little abused boy. And yet this is what makes it so good and heart-felt. It's quite an amazing book that deals with a real issue facing society.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
I love this book. It is one of the best books i have ever read!!!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a great book. I loved it. It was about a boy who was abused by his dad. The dad would make the boy stay in the basement until he was good. The boy never did anything bad. The mom would always sneak down there and hide food so that he could eat. One day the boy waited until his parents went to bed. Then, he went outside to go to the bathroom, and he got locked out so he ran. The next morning he was in a hospital because the police found him on the street. Then when his parents showed up they couldnt stay with him. So the boy had to live with someone else. He was now a foster child. Then a really bad thing happens at the end of the book, so you really need to read this.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is a great book for people who like reality fiction. I usually don't like reality based books, because i think it will have no action. But I was wrong! This book has a LOT of action. The characters are realistic and have unique personalities. I'd recommend thins book to everyone!
Guest More than 1 year ago
this is tooo sad for kids under the age of 9 years old or younger this should be a longer book and be mad for high school students and older.people i dont think you want your child to have night mares every single night!!!!!!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
no offense to anybody but this was not a very good book in my opinion. i don't know why i didnt like it i just couldn't get into it. i like the topic she chose to write about. its just that the tone didn't feel right. well i didn't think i was a great book