ODD MAN OUT by Gail Radley


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An uneven story from the author of Golden Days (1991), about fraternal twins who decide to help a retarded man. Sixth-graders Kit and Jordy have each other, but as new residents in a small Missouri town, feel left out. Kit rather desperately looks for connections; moved only partly by pity she comes to the aid of another outsider, mentally and physically disabled Oakley, saving him from shoplifting charges and finding him odd jobs. Later, she becomes fixated on Davis Jenkins, an eighth-grader her mother is tutoring; Kit starts to shut out her brother Jordy, who, though reluctant at first to have anything to do with Oakley, soon realizes that the man is harmless, and even a good co-worker. When humiliation threatens Oakley at a local parade, Jordy loyally takes his side; braving the scorn, so does Kit. The twins' relationship is artfully developed, but the other characters are mere sketches; even Oakley is puppetlike, without strong feelings or personality traits. The value of friendship over popularity is an evergreen theme, but a book like Nancy H. Wilson's The Reason For Janey (1994) offers a more intimate, convincing picture of the mentally challenged.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1995
Page count: 131pp
Publisher: Macmillan