Timothy Wellington is an introverted child who dreads going to school. When he reaches the second grade, he starts to struggle with some of his subjects and as a result falls behind in his class. After being humiliated by one of his teachers for continually failing a class test, Timothy is unable to contain his frustration any longer and responds with an uncharacteristic outburst, bringing him to the attention of the school authorities.
Although his parents send him to a new school, Timothy continues to struggle to improve his grades and is placed in the Special Education Program. Over the years, as his confidence is decreased even further, he finds the Special Ed program has little to offer him and that the stigma attached only has the effect of making him feel more isolated.
Throughout his years in middle school, he desperately tries to hide the fact he is in the program for fear of being ridiculed by the other children. But one of his classmates discovers his secret, and Timothy finds out that silence comes at a cost. When Timothy graduates to high school, his secret remains intact until one of his less sympathetic teachers discloses his “status” to his class, and in turn to the whole school.
After many years in which his cries for help have fallen on deaf ears, Timothy decides he must take a stand, despite what his parents, teachers and the educational authorities have planned for him. He finds sanctuary in the school library and is eventually able to escape the “system” he feels is holding him back and manages to achieve goals others always led him to believe were out of his reach.
Robert Blevins shows us a very lonely child with no significant role models, no friends and no voice. The remoteness he feels from his family and peers is evident. Although the special education system’s failures are the focus of the story, the role of the family is only vaguely mentioned. It would have been interesting to have more detail about his home life, his relationship with his parents and siblings, to see the effects they had on him growing up. The only family member named is Dianna, the sister who he eventually turns to for tutoring. As he grows older and his relationship with parents is breaking down he does not give any indication as to why this may have happened.
The way in which Blevins describes the same details in a repetitive way emphasises the routine nature of school days; lonely walks down foreign corridors, tentatively opening the door to a classroom. But where for most children the isolation experienced in a new school is soon replaced by a group of new friends as well as old, Timothy’s school years are spent in solitude. Many faceless and nameless peers drift by, which almost works as a mirror to how the protagonist feels others perceive him.
Titles of the Wrong Kind shows us that as individuals we should always believe in ourselves, no matter how much others may make us feel like failures.