EYE OF THE BEHOLDER by Daniel Hayes

EYE OF THE BEHOLDER

Age Range: 11 - 15
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 The eighth-graders who appeared in The Trouble with Lemons (1991) are back in a stronger second novel, less freighted with the life conflicts of its adult characters. The theme here is comic, hinging on the pickles that Tyler (privileged only child of a widowed actress) and his slower, marginally more sensible friend Lymie (scion of a farm family in Wakefield, in upstate New York) keep getting into--notably, after carving stone heads in imitation of Badoglio, a revered sculptor who once worked in Wakefield. Teased about their handiwork, the boys throw the two heads into a river, whence they are dredged up and misidentified- -by eminent art critics and community luminaries--as genuine Badoglios. Hayes makes good use of the boys' ensuing moral dilemma, and even better use of its comic possibilities, spinning them out through several surprising reversals. Other events- -especially a Halloween encounter with a vicious neighbor who overreacts to a prank--establish the boys' propensity for trouble, but divert attention from the primary story. Other strengths here are also undermined by faults: groundskeeper Chuckie is a refreshing blend of big brother and father figure to Tyler, but Lymie's apparent talents (consistently misrepresented by his narrator friend) are out of focus; there's some laudably fresh language, and much of the dialogue is snappy and realistic, but it goes on and on. A funny book with real insights, but much in need of pruning. (Fiction. 11-15)

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1992
ISBN: 0-87923-881-X
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: Godine
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 1992




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