Almost in defiance of her subject matter--and in spite of early scenes in which eight-year-old Georgie Burgess gets beaten within an inch of his life--Hunt gives us a story awash in smarm and sentimentality. After the much abused Georgie is taken from his drunken mother and her sadistic boyfriend he is placed, to our surprise and his, in an idyllic country school where his psychological scars heal quickly under the care of nice Sister Angela. . . and where he gradually comes to trust the blond-braided, twice-bereaved mother who wants to take him into her wealthy home. Aside from the utter unreality of the situation, the view of Georgie from above--the perspective of a concerned, but professionally distanced social worker, perhaps--trivializes his struggle. Hunt's revered novels have all aged somewhat; this one is embarrassingly antiquated from the first.