THE COPPER ELEPHANT by Adam Rapp

THE COPPER ELEPHANT

Age Range: 13 - 15
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KIRKUS REVIEW

Envisioning a nightmarish future in which children deemed small or otherwise defective are worked to death breaking rocks, and the constant rain is so acid it raises blisters, Rapp (Buffalo Tree, 1997) crafts another lurid shocker. Learning that the coffin maker who has housed her is about to sell her off, 11-year-old Whensday, also known as “33” for the tattoo on her arm, sneaks away. Cataloging the disease, excrement, blood, vomit, mutations, slime, and general filth with matter-of-fact bluntness, she takes temporary shelter from the rain with Honeycut, a huge, dimwitted teenager; tries to escape with another fugitive who dies of ebola-like Blackfrost; is raped by an officer of the brutal local militia; and sees Honeycut stoned to death for killing the man. Whensday tells her tale in a colorful idiolect, mixing dreams and scatological exchanges with Oakley, a tough-talking younger friend. Certain she’s about to die since she can’t stop vomiting, Whensday is rescued by a hidden community of women who clean her up and tell her she’s pregnant—a happy ending, under the circumstances. Often gripping, sometimes blackly funny in a squalid way, this will remind readers of Russell Hoban’s Ridley Walker (1980) and other tales of post-apocalyptic devastation. (Fiction. 13-15)

Pub Date: Nov. 30th, 1999
ISBN: 1-886910-42-1
Page count: 250pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 1999




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