Honestly, I am not a fan of the speech. The last line - "He is a brave, brave, beautiful soul with the heart of an angel and only earthly lungs" - is overwrought, and as a whole the speech is reads like an email forward about a disabled child. It’s a clichés. Why is Scott a hero, because he’s living with a live shortening disease?
I like the opening lines. “The directions are simple. Scott will stay in his wheelchair. Joey will keep him there.” The prose is very staccato and very striking. I don’t know what’s happening, but I am drawn in because these words are intense. There are all these questions that immediately come into my mind: why is Scott in a wheelchair? Why does Joey have to keep him there, and how? What is the relationship between the two boys? How does the principal factor into it? But of those questions, I feel only the first one is really answered sufficiently. I never get a sense of who Scott and Joey are to each other, what specific situation has lead to the “directions”, or why Principal Keanes is involved.
And why the way – how does Keanes know all the things he references in this speech? How does his know Scott’s weight? Or that Scott smiled when he woke up at the hospital? Is he also a family member? That knowledge seems a little involved for an administrator.
During the speech, Keanes says that Scott is not defined by his cystic fibrosis – and yet, in the narrative, that is exactly what defines him. What do we know about him except that he apparently has some relationship with Joey (friend, brother, who knows), and he might be rebellious?
My advice would be to try again, but without the speech. Just focus on the boys, and their points of view. If you really don’t want Scott to be defined by his illness, then let him tell his own story. Because it sounds like Scott kinda doesn’t care about what a hero he is because he smiles a lot; it sounds like the conflict really is that Scott and Joey want to do something that is either impossible or inadvisable for Scott to do at all. Explore that. Best of luck!
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