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Book Review: The Boy On The Lake: He Faced Down the Biggest Bully of His Life by Susan Rosser with Charlie Smith and Trevor Schaefer

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The Boy On the Lake is the true story of Trevor Schaefer, who at age 13 was struck with brain cancer. It is not only the story of how he survived that devastating disease, but also of how he became the voice for other children who develop cancer from probable environmental causes and how he inspired “Trevor’s Law,” which encourages investigation of unexplained “cancer clusters,” especially among children.

More than that, is it also the incredible story of how Trevor’s father made things even more difficult for him with selfish actions and emotional abuse, and the hard struggle he and his mom Charlie had with the courts, who refused to deny his father shared custody even when it meant that Trevor was neglected, ridiculed, and kept inconveniently far from his doctors while in his father’s care.

It is also the story of Charlie Smith, whose love and fear for her son led her to undertake a quest to find answers for him and the other children in their small town who also had cancer.

Because the book is told purely from either Charlie or Trevor’s viewpoint, the author has found it necessary to provide large amounts of information as though it is being told by one character to another. This is sometimes awkward and makes for stilted dialogue in some places. Nevertheless, in other instances it is an effective device for allowing the reader to understand what Mom and son were thinking and going through.

The Boy On the Lake is a fascinating book about an important topic and should make everyone think more about the toxins that have been dumped into our air and water over the years, and the effect that may be having not only on adults but on the children. Trevor and his Mom were told that because they lived in a small town, the inordinate amount of childhood cancer was “statistically insignificant.” The Boy on the Lake will help readers understand that no child is a statistic, and no child is insignificant.

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About Rhetta Akamatsu

I am an author of non-fiction books and an online journalist. My books include Haunted Marietta, The Irish Slaves, T'ain't Nobody's Business If I Do: Blues Women Past and Present, and Sex Sells: Women in Photography and Film.