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Book review: 'The Cottage Park Puzzle' tugs at the heart
"The Cottage Park Puzzle" is by Richard M. Siddoway. - photo by Micah Klug
"THE COTTAGE PARK PUZZLE," by Richard M. Siddoway, Sweetwater Books, $14.99, 199 pages (f)

Richard M. Siddoway delivers a story that tugs at the heartstrings in his latest novel, The Cottage Park Puzzle. Siddoway guides readers through a maze of emotions, including sympathy, hurt, bitterness, forgiveness and, finally, restitution.

A small town is shaken to the core when two young men beaten nearly to death are discovered on the grounds of the high school.

Corky Rogers, a ninth-grader with autism who is in the special-needs program of Cottage Park Junior-Senior High School, is placed on suspension because he was found standing over Pete Archibald and Rocky Winkleman with a baseball bat in hand. The discovery was made by the principals son, Scott Middleton. A fight over Corkys expulsion ensues.

The townsfolk begin to argue with one another regarding Corky, his mental capacities and the trouble everyone assumes he caused.

Its not until Pete and Rocky recover enough to share their perspective on what happened that the truth about the fight is finally discovered.

The Cottage Park Puzzle encompasses a sensitive subject regarding mental disabilities, and Siddoway maintains a level of respect. Corkys disability is seen and discussed from outsiders perspectives, including from those who view it as a blessing, an excuse, an ailment or a handicap.

There is no foul language, and the described violence is minimal and includes a high school fight that is described as a cause of bullying.

Siddoway is the author of 10 books, including The Christmas Wish, which was on The New York Times' best-seller list.