THE WOMAN IN THE WALL

Kindl (Owl in Love, 1993), who brought readers an unforgettable, offbeat protagonist in her first novel, does it again in this not-quite fantasy. Anna is such a shy child that she is almost invisible—"I'm small and thin, with a face like a glass of water. And I like to hide.'' Her mother and sisters find it hard to see or hear her, and her father "faded out'' of their lives years before. The concept of school, other children, the outside (asking her to leave the house was "like asking me to strip off my very skin''), and a terrifying (and hilarious) visit from the school psychologist send Anna into hiding for good, in the nooks and crannies of the family's rambling Victorian home. Anna, good with tools and her hands, literally walls herself off, peering at her family through peepholes and coming out only when they are all asleep. She hides for years, until her mother and sisters almost forget she really exists. Then comes puberty, and with it, all the inchoate longings of adolescence. Teenage agony is full-blown: the complete self-involvement; the terror of rejection; the recoiling at physical changes (she is dumbfounded when she develops breasts); the certain knowledge that no one has ever felt the way she feels. How Anna finds herself and her family again is a tour de force of extraordinary power and wicked humor. Kindl bends the prism of loss and isolation until the clear colors of self shine forth, for Anna, and for enthralled readers. (Fiction. 10-15)

Pub Date: March 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-395-83014-1

Page Count: 185

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1997

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THE BOY IN THE STRIPED PAJAMAS

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 Boyle’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 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2006

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WHAT THE MOON SAW

When Clara Luna, 14, visits rural Mexico for the summer to visit the paternal grandparents she has never met, she cannot know her trip will involve an emotional and spiritual journey into her family’s past and a deep connection to a rich heritage of which she was barely aware. Long estranged from his parents, Clara’s father had entered the U.S. illegally years before, subsequently becoming a successful business owner who never spoke about what he left behind. Clara’s journey into her grandmother’s history (told in alternating chapters with Clara’s own first-person narrative) and her discovery that she, like her grandmother and ancestors, has a gift for healing, awakens her to the simple, mystical joys of a rural lifestyle she comes to love and wholly embrace. Painfully aware of not fitting into suburban teen life in her native Maryland, Clara awakens to feeling alive in Mexico and realizes a sweet first love with Pedro, a charming goat herder. Beautifully written, this is filled with evocative language that is rich in imagery and nuance and speaks to the connections that bind us all. Add a thrilling adventure and all the makings of an entrancing read are here. (glossaries) (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2006

ISBN: 0-385-73343-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2006

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