ICEMAN by Chris Lynch


Age Range: 12 & up
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 In his second novel, the author of Shadow Boxer (1993) again depicts two brothers grappling with a violence spawned by their father; again, the older (here, Duane, 17) has renounced a brutal sport (ice hockey) while the younger (Eric, 14) still pursues it. This time the younger boy is the viewpoint character; and Dad is still around to cheer, with vicious enthusiasm, when he mauls his opponents. Duane has been the family pariah since he gave up hockey for guitar and good grades; both parents focus on Eric. Dad has a demented dependence on his hockey games, whose ferocity he vicariously shares; Ma, a humorless former nun, urges him to church. Disliked and feared by his teammates, out of touch with his feelings, Eric takes refuge in the local mortuary, where he has struck up a friendship with a gruff old man whose necrophilia, once revealed (in a startling but not a graphic scene) shocks Eric into confronting his own inner darkness and deciding to give up hockey. The suspense here doesn't hinge on Eric's savage behavior in the vividly depicted matches, but on what it expresses--a fierce angst that might well have led to tragedy. In the end, it doesn't: Duane finally reaches out to Eric with a concern that helps him turn himself around. Dad's subsequent mellowing doesn't quite compute; but that's a minor flaw in a powerfully written story that examines the role of inner rage in a troubled family where it makes it particularly difficult for the favored younger son to win autonomy. (Fiction. 12+)

Pub Date: March 30th, 1994
ISBN: 0-06-023340-0
Page count: 160pp
Publisher: HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 1994


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