Josefson writes vigorously and is well attuned to the upheavals experienced by adolescents.

THAT'S NOT A FEELING

Most of the goings-on at Roaring Orchards School in upstate New York are not academic but instead personal and chaotic.

Josefson uses Benjamin, a new student at the school, as an intermittent narrator, though he also narrates events he couldn’t possibly have witnessed, so while we get his perspective on incidents at the school, we get a broader view as well. With two failed suicide attempts behind him, Benjamin has been placed in school by his parents, who drop him off and disappear—his first hint that life will start to be very different indeed. At Roaring Orchards he meets a plenitude of bent and broken students, most notably Tidbit, a buxom girl who’s attracted to most every drug. The most normative response that students have to the school is running away, and it seems as if they’re always being chased down and brought back against their will. The founder and headmaster of the school is Aubrey, who one day had an epiphany that students engaging in questionable behavior should not be expelled, and he found an eager cadre of parents who bought into this philosophy, for he was able to expand the school impressively after he put this policy into effect. Because it’s a school for “troubled teens,” Aubrey has instituted a number of strategies, many of them involving therapy but most of them questionable—like having students relive birth trauma, for example, or placing them in “alternative” dorms to isolate them for untoward behavior. We eventually find out that Benjamin is narrating these events of his adolescence from an adult perspective, and his visit to Roaring Orchards after Aubrey’s death and the school’s demise is particularly poignant.

Josefson writes vigorously and is well attuned to the upheavals experienced by adolescents.

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-61695-188-7

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Soho

Review Posted Online: April 29, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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ANIMAL FARM

A FAIRY STORY

A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

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FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS

This is good Hemingway. It has some of the tenderness of A Farewell to Arms and some of its amazing power to make one feel inside the picture of a nation at war, of the people experiencing war shorn of its glamor, of the emotions that the effects of war — rather than war itself — arouse. But in style and tempo and impact, there is greater resemblance to The Sun Also Rises. Implicit in the characters and the story is the whole tragic lesson of Spain's Civil War, proving ground for today's holocaust, and carrying in its small compass, the contradictions, the human frailties, the heroism and idealism and shortcomings. In retrospect the thread of the story itself is slight. Three days, during which time a young American, a professor who has taken his Sabbatical year from the University of Montana to play his part in the struggle for Loyalist Spain and democracy. He is sent to a guerilla camp of partisans within the Fascist lines to blow up a strategic bridge. His is a complex problem in humanity, a group of undisciplined, unorganized natives, emotionally geared to go their own way, while he has a job that demands unreasoning, unwavering obedience. He falls in love with a lovely refugee girl, escaping the terrors of a fascist imprisonment, and their romance is sharply etched against a gruesome background. It is a searing book; Hemingway has done more to dramatize the Spanish War than any amount of abstract declamation. Yet he has done it through revealing the pettinesses, the indignities, the jealousies, the cruelties on both sides, never glorifying simply presenting starkly the belief in the principles for which these people fought a hopeless war, to give the rest of the world an interval to prepare. There is something of the implacable logic of Verdun in the telling. It's not a book for the thin-skinned; it has more than its fill of obscenities and the style is clipped and almost too elliptical for clarity at times. But it is a book that repays one for bleak moments of unpleasantness.

Pub Date: Oct. 21, 1940

ISBN: 0684803356

Page Count: 484

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1940

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