Age Range: 14 & up
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A compelling triangle: Hank, 16, child of an upper-crust Bostonian and a penniless composer; his best friend Jonathan, whose mother, a Holocaust survivor, runs a restaurant with her husband; Jonathan's cousin David, 21, who leaves a psychiatric hospital to live with Jonathan's family in a last hope of alleviating his depression. All three are gifted; in an opening episode, Hank--now a surgeon--must operate on critically wounded Jonathan (Ph.D. in linguistics) in Vietnam; David, having proven unable to face his pastor his talents, is dead. Flashing back, the book develops the relationships of the boys' youth--Hank's hurt at Jonathan's apparent coldness after David arrives, David's cruel needling as he acts out his angst, Jonathan's admission to Hank that he's sticking close to David to prevent his suicide. Enlisted in the effort (which nonetheless fails), Hank does give Jonathan the courage to go on. In the concluding Vietnam episode, Jonathan survives, though he's lost an eye: again, Hank has "limited the damage." Though these characters don't have the warmth that enthralls readers of the Dicey books, the boys' intellectual banter rings true, giving their anguished grappling with their emotions about their families, each other, and the horrors of the Holocaust special poignance. Even the rather shadowy parents are believable mixes of strengths and fallibilities, while Hank and Jonathan's vividly realized loyalties and affections carry them through the trauma of trying and failing to help David and of understanding the significance of their actions. Intelligent, thoughtful, and challenging. (Fiction. YA)

Pub Date: April 1st, 1992
ISBN: 0-590-45165-0
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Scholastic
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 1992


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