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The hunt for a mysterious yellowwood box becomes a Capetown teenager's quest for identity in this busy story from the author of Crocodile Burning (1992). Jay's grandfather has died, leaving no explanation of why, ten years earlier, he suddenly disappeared, abandoning his family and a prosperous business. In hopes of an answer, Jay gathers an assortment of companions, including levi, a secretive 9-year-old with telltale bruises on his face, and sets out in his grandfather's ancient van to track down a storage box that the old man left to him. The search takes Jay from oily Uncle Peter's posh suburban house to a hut in the Knysna Forest, with stops in a township and at a home for abandoned children. Meanwhile, it takes on symbolic meaning for Jay, who seeks not only clues to his family's past but also direction in his own life. Williams draws random plot elements from the story of Jason and the Golden Fleece and shoehorns in several subplots -- Jay's senile grandmother takes to swallowing silverware; he learns that Uncle Peter has not only had a relationship with his mother (oddly, Jay sees her as guiltless) but has been misusing trust funds that are rightfully his; and Levi is ultimately beaten to death by his mother's abusive boyfriend. The box turns out to contain legal documents plus almost 200 stories, all unfinished -- his grandfather's real legacy and the spark that sets Jay on the road to becoming a writer. Some poignant moments and a rather dark sense of humor help to tie the disparate elements together.

Pub Date: July 1st, 1994
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Lodestar