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THE BROKEN BOY by Karen Ackerman

THE BROKEN BOY

By Karen Ackerman

Age Range: 10 - 14

Pub Date: May 1st, 1991
ISBN: 0-399-22254-5
Publisher: Philomel

 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)