THE REAL PLATO JONES by Nina Bawden

THE REAL PLATO JONES

Age Range: 10 - 14

KIRKUS REVIEW

 When Plato (Jane's supportive friend in The Outside Child, 1989) accompanies his mother Maria to her father Nikos's funeral in rural Greece, Plato's self-image is thrown into chaos. His family history is complex: because Nikos betrayed guerrillas to the Nazis in order to save hostage civilians in his village of Molo, he's still scorned--while Welsh grandfather ``CLJ,'' who escaped the Nazis to hide with the help of Plato's great-aunt Elena, is revered. Along the way to reconciling himself to Nikos's terrible, still debatable choice, Plato squabbles--at the rare times they're together--with his sorely missed sister Aliki (who lives in New York with their dad; Plato and Maria live in Britain); learns more about his past from Elena and CLJ; grows- -suddenly and emblematically; and, on a second visit to Greece (with Jane as guest), gets his own chance at heroism when Molo is almost destroyed by fire (cf. Carrie's War). Interestingly, heroism is demanded of everyone on this occasion, so no one wins distinction for it (or is allowed to enjoy hubris), though Plato's family is finally accepted as a result; and it remains to the nice, rich Greek who's been courting Maria, to help Plato grasp the truth: more than bits of Greek and Welsh, he can be himself, though it's ``harder than belonging to a tribe...[to be] A Citizen of the World.'' The conclusion may be a bit tidy; but the path that Bawden's wonderfully individual characters take to it has enough unexpected turns to keep readers enthralled, while the subtext concerning the vexed nature of heroism--and nationality--is provocatively explored. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 18th, 1993
ISBN: 0-395-66972-3
Page count: 166pp
Publisher: Clarion
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 1993




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