HENRY  by Joseph Krumgold
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HENRY

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KIRKUS REVIEW

For Henry Lovering III, Crestview was going to be different. He'd keep his I.Q. quiet and maybe make some friends. For the family, Crestview was different: it was the top, the only place they'd be safe. With all members working at success, they're soon in, but outside--outside the pattern--are the Larkins. Fletcher and his grandfather who had once owned the potato fields that became Crestview. Now Old Man Larkin is a recluse litigating against his neighbors and Fletcher is ""poison."" Then Henry and the Loverings fall from grace for installing a bomb shelter (""if there is a bomb, what happens to the rest of us?""). Crestview, like all suburbs, Mr. Larkin tells Henry, is a matriarchy based on ""security and style."" But Henry has a way to stop wars and so make bomb shelters unnecessary. With Fletcher, his sub rosa friend, he beards his father's boss (the company makes the shelters) in his paneled den and his father falls apart (""it was just the same as not having a father at all""). And then the rains come, and in the hurricane crisis everyone is a little better (""the way I did with my I.Q., they were all hiding who they really were"") and Dad is best of all--he runs the whole show...until the mess is cleared up, and everyone goes back to exactly what they were before. Dad has an explanation but not the answer: ""you've found something that shouldn't be and it can't be helped."" What has been helped is Henry--no more playing dumb; what will be helped is Fletcher--after his grandfather's death he is adopted by the Loverings and decides to spare Crestview (his by court order) because he and Henry don't belong to Crestview, they belong to the ""brotherhood"" they are in together... Mr. Krumgold catches the quintessence of suburbia: the lawns and shrubs like stage sets, the subtleties of social climbing from the crib on, the insecurity that insists too much. His kids come across loud and clear and so, sadly, to their elders. After the confrontation in the Big Boss' office (an almost surrealist scene) the going gets stickier, and the final acceptance of and by Fletcher has to be taken on faith. Because it is fast and funny and refreshing reading, because it probes--deep--the problems which bug kids, it should have an enormous impact.

Pub Date: Sept. 6th, 1967
Publisher: Atheneum