WHO IS EDDIE LEONARD?

Shortly after the death of the grandmother who raised him, Eddie—who knows no other family save an uncle who once gave him a dog, then took it away, and who has since disappeared—sees a notice about Jason Diaz, missing since the age of three. Jason's face so resembles Eddie's that the 14-year-old is sure they are one and the same. The easily traced Diazes are a contrast to Eddie's gruff, abusive grandmother: Connie, a musician, her divorced husband Bruce, a dentist, and their daughter Miller, younger than Eddie, are good people who take Eddie in (after some indecision) without really assessing his claim. Affection grows on both sides, but when Bruce finds proof that Eddie is not Jason, and the boy leaves on his own, neither parent truly wishes him to return. The plot is intriguing, and Eddie does answer the title's question to his own, and readers', satisfaction. But though parents yearning against hope for a lost child's return may well behave surprisingly, the Diazes' actions are too implausible to credit. They trust Eddie too easily, and with too much. Harder to accept—largely because none of the characters is developed in depth—is the love that blossoms so easily between them; it's especially unlikely that a boy with Eddie's troubled past could assume such a compliant faáade, no matter how much he longed for a family. Still, entertaining; but for a deeper and more astute, look at this theme, try Alcock's taut The Cuckoo Sister (1986). (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-385-31136-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1993

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THE BOY IN THE STRIPED PAJAMAS

After Hitler appoints Bruno’s father commandant of Auschwitz, Bruno (nine) is unhappy with his new surroundings compared to the luxury of his home in Berlin. The literal-minded Bruno, with amazingly little political and social awareness, never gains comprehension of the prisoners (all in “striped pajamas”) or the malignant nature of the death camp. He overcomes loneliness and isolation only when he discovers another boy, Shmuel, on the other side of the camp’s fence. For months, the two meet, becoming secret best friends even though they can never play together. Although Bruno’s family corrects him, he childishly calls the camp “Out-With” and the Fuhrer “Fury.” As a literary device, it could be said to be credibly rooted in Bruno’s consistent, guileless characterization, though it’s difficult to believe in reality. The tragic story’s point of view is unique: the corrosive effect of brutality on Nazi family life as seen through the eyes of a naïf. Some will believe that the fable form, in which the illogical may serve the objective of moral instruction, succeeds in Boyle’s narrative; others will believe it was the wrong choice. Certain to provoke controversy and difficult to see as a book for children, who could easily miss the painful point. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2006

ISBN: 0-385-75106-0

Page Count: 224

Publisher: David Fickling/Random

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2006

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WHAT THE MOON SAW

When Clara Luna, 14, visits rural Mexico for the summer to visit the paternal grandparents she has never met, she cannot know her trip will involve an emotional and spiritual journey into her family’s past and a deep connection to a rich heritage of which she was barely aware. Long estranged from his parents, Clara’s father had entered the U.S. illegally years before, subsequently becoming a successful business owner who never spoke about what he left behind. Clara’s journey into her grandmother’s history (told in alternating chapters with Clara’s own first-person narrative) and her discovery that she, like her grandmother and ancestors, has a gift for healing, awakens her to the simple, mystical joys of a rural lifestyle she comes to love and wholly embrace. Painfully aware of not fitting into suburban teen life in her native Maryland, Clara awakens to feeling alive in Mexico and realizes a sweet first love with Pedro, a charming goat herder. Beautifully written, this is filled with evocative language that is rich in imagery and nuance and speaks to the connections that bind us all. Add a thrilling adventure and all the makings of an entrancing read are here. (glossaries) (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2006

ISBN: 0-385-73343-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2006

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