Jerry Spinelli

Maniac Magee

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Maniac Magee Summary

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In Maniac Magee, Jerry Spinelli writes a young adult novel in which the main character known as Jeffrey Lionel Magee finds himself homeless and settles in Two Mills, Pennsylvania, where he experiences a great deal of racism. Initially, the reader finds out that Magee’s parents have died in a car accident and he is told that he should go live with his aunt and uncle. However, while he stays there, he cannot tolerate their constant fighting. They refuse to get a divorce and Magee finds himself caught right in the middle of their household.

In Part 1, the marriage of Magee’s aunt and uncle takes a toll on him and he decides to run away from their home. He shows up in Two Mills and he is not aware that the town is racially divided. There seems to be an unspoken rule that the white people live on the west end of the town while the black people live on the east end of town. Magee does not know about this rule and he comes in contact with an African American girl by the name of Amanda to seems to be confused that Magee is on the east end even though he has white skin. Even through her confusion, Magee is very intrigued by the girl because she is carrying a suitcase and he wants to know what her story is.

Magee continues to walk throughout the town in Part 1 of the novel and he witnesses a group of high schoolers terrorizing a young child. They proceed to try and throw him over a fence and the child’s face and body language is filled with fright and terror. Magee rescues the child and he continues to move along on his way. Finally, Magee approaches the high school of the town and he meets students who are a part of Little League. Magee begins to play with them and they realize that he is a force to be reckoned with since he is able to figure out their tricks while playing the game. The boys proceed to give him the nickname “maniac” since they are curious about their endeavors with a wild, stranger.

In Part 2, Magee meets Earl Grayson who takes him to the YMCA where the boy is able to take a shower and dispose of his dirty clothes. Magee then tells Grayson that he does not want to attend school because he feels like it is a home where he cannot stay and in turn he does not have a place to go to when school is over. Grayson tells him that he can stay at the YMCA, but Magee does not want to do that because he is concerned about his bad luck streak. Eventually, the relationship between Grayson and Magee develops as they share stories about baseball. Magee finds out that the old man cannot read and he introduces him to the library where he is able to take out books. Through a great deal of encouragement, Grayson is able to read is first sentence.

As Part 2 continues, Magee and Grayson move into a nearby shed in town and they decorate the space as Thanksgiving and Christmas approach. On Christmas morning, they both exchange presents such as baseball gloves, books and candy. They seem elated that they can share the holidays together. However, Grayson dies just five days after Christmas.

The author Magee wakes up one morning and finds that Grayson is still in bed, which is unusual for him. Magee goes to his bedside and realized that his hands are cold and that he is not breathing. After one full day, Magee begins to cry.

Once the funeral is held days later, Magee realizes that he is the only person to show up aside from the funeral director and the other people involved with carrying the casket. Magee hears the people speaking in a disrespectful tone and he proceeds to run.

In part 3, Magee tells himself that his presence in the lives of other people curses them and brings bad luck. He is determined to keep to himself and not bother anyone again. As time progresses, he finds himself very cold and hungry, but makes a place for himself at an old monument within Two Mills. Once he is there, he meets two boys who want to escape the town and they plan on going to Mexico. However, Magee is concerned that the will not be safe and he coaxes them to stay in town. He then finds out that the boys do not have a mother and that the only person raising them is a father who is an alcoholic.

Magee continues to stay with the family even though he is hesitant and he finds out that the family is very fearful of the east end of town. Through a series of events, Magee finds that living in the home is not what he expected and he flees again. Towards the end of the novel, Magee decides to spend time at the zoo and brings Amanda with him. She convinces him to live with her family and tells him that he will not be a curse. Instead, Amanda makes it known to him that he is a blessing within Two Mills.