THE BROKEN BOY

When the Ferrises move in next door, where Solly Freedom's aged friend Mrs. Sawyer used to live, Solly's family takes their oddities in stride; after all, Solly's parents came of age in the 60's and have their own idiosyncracies. They are taken aback, however, when Daniel, apparently seeking refuge from his parents' shouting matches, becomes a frequent, silent presence in their home; but Solly and Daniel are soon friends; and when it develops that Daniel is mentally ill, the Freedoms are warmly supportive. Meanwhile, Daniel discovers the diary of Mrs. Sawyer's disabled son Martin, and concludes from Martin's soul-searching about his own condition and his war-traumatized father's death that there may be more for him in his next life. There are more than enough parallels and images here: every male is in some sense a ``broken boy,'' while several people are summed up as ``buffalo dimes'' or as ``annuals'' or ``perennials.'' Ackerman makes her point—life involves many repairs and much forgiveness—but then belabors it explicitly. And there are odd glitches: Why does the healthy, intelligent, albeit wheelchair-bound, Martin live in a ``hospice,'' apparently unemployed? How did his infirm mother manage alone for five years after he moved out? Still, the dialogue is witty and offbeat, the situation engrossing, the characters perceptively drawn, and the outcome moving and credible—though Daniel may not recover from his suicide attempt, others are seeking new reconciliations as a result of it. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: May 1, 1991

ISBN: 0-399-22254-5

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1991

THE BOY IN THE STRIPED PAJAMAS

Certain to provoke controversy and difficult to see as a book for children, who could easily miss the painful point.

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 Boyne’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 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2006

ASK ME NO QUESTIONS

Illegal immigrant sisters learn a lot about themselves when their family faces deportation in this compelling contemporary drama. Immigrants from Bangladesh, Nadira, her older sister Aisha and their parents live in New York City with expired visas. Fourteen-year-old Nadira describes herself as “the slow-wit second-born” who follows Aisha, the family star who’s on track for class valedictorian and a top-rate college. Everything changes when post-9/11 government crack-downs on Muslim immigrants push the family to seek asylum in Canada where they are turned away at the border and their father is arrested by U.S. immigration. The sisters return to New York living in constant fear of detection and trying to pretend everything is normal. As months pass, Aisha falls apart while Nadira uses her head in “a right way” to save her father and her family. Nadira’s need for acceptance by her family neatly parallels the family’s desire for acceptance in their adopted country. A perceptive peek into the lives of foreigners on the fringe. (endnote) (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2006

ISBN: 1-4169-0351-8

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Ginee Seo/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2005

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