Borough Of Kings

In Borough of Kings, Jimmy, the protagonist, an aspiring thespian who lives in a working-class neighborhood in Brooklyn, meets and romances a young woman who works at the theater where he gets a part in a Shakespeare production. When they get to know each other better, he tells her that he has dyslexia, and that when he was a kid, he would hate to go to school because he was embarrassed at not knowing how to read and anxious about looking “stupid in front of the other kids”. He was also afraid that he would get sent to a “special school” for “the learning disabled”. (This is perhaps because in the past, not all US parochial schools offered special education or services for students with disabilities, and that switching to the public school system was perhaps in some instances the only option for those with special needs. This may still be the case in smaller, less prosperous parishes.)
However, as he told her, there was a saving grace for his schooling situation and what would become his career: there was a particular teaching nun who worked with him specifically, and got him reading. He didn’t specify what sort of reading instruction or dyslexia remediation method Sister used, but because of the devotion of this teacher, he was now able to read Shakespeare in adult life.
A coping strategy devised by the nun, which most likely arose from the need for him to read everything several times over to get the correct meaning and properly process the information was memorization. Fortunate enough to have a quick intellect and a good memory, Jimmy became the one to volunteer to “read” in front of the class, having memorized what he was to read before the recitation, to which he would come to add dramatic flair. This skill led to his ability to have the actors’ parts in Shakespeare’s plays memorized, so that he did not have to have a script in front of him when he “read” for the part during the audition.


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