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THE OXBOY by Anne Mazer

THE OXBOY

By Anne Mazer

Age Range: 9 - 14

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-679-84191-1
Publisher: Knopf

 The form of Mazer's second novel--a stark fable concerning the intermarriage of people and animals--is in striking contrast to the contemporary school-and-neighborhood story in Moose Street (1992), yet its theme is the same: the effects of intolerance. In a preindustrial setting resembling Middle Europe, animals have a nobility that's notably absent in humans who, by custom and decree, abhor them--though many humans mate with the animals. If detected, they and their offspring are summarily executed; still, the ``mixed-bloods'' are everywhere, even among the viciously self-righteous oppressors. When the oxboy's human mother falls under suspicion, his splendid ox father retreats to the forest, still keeping a protective eye on his family. The mother remarries; the boy passes for human, though his best friend is a ``mixed-blood'' who resembles an otter. When the otter is found out and killed, the boy is imprisoned for consorting with him. Mazer's world is incompletely imagined: the father's life in the forest, or why the mother didn't escape to him in the beginning, as the boy does in the end, is not explained. But this allegorical world is compelling (the reference to Jews is obvious, but the tale's meaning is far more universal). A provocative, unusually imaginative tale. (Fiction. 9-14)