MONKEY ISLAND by Paula Fox

MONKEY ISLAND

Age Range: 9 & up

KIRKUS REVIEW

 A fine author considers what it means to be a homeless 11- year-old in N.Y.C. Clay Garrity's dad, an art director, was out of work; Clay's mother trained for a good job--but it wasn't enough, especially with a baby coming. Unable to cope, Dad disappeared; now, without warning, Clay's distraught mother has also abandoned him, leaving him in an unsavory welfare hotel. When a neighbor suggests calling the police, Clay bolts, afraid that becoming a foster child would mean losing his mother forever. He lands in a park with Buddy, a hard-working young black man who can't earn enough for a rent deposit, and with Calvin, a retired teacher who lost everything in a fire. Weeks later, their fragile existence is destroyed by an invasion of raging toughs (``the stump people'') who demolish their meager, hard-won amenities and scatter the park's inhabitants. Indirect results include Calvin's death; Clay, weak from malnutrition and exposure, is hospitalized. Focusing on a child who has been secure and well-loved intensifies the impact of his deprivations and suggests that Clay's cruel experiences could happen to anyone. It also allows a subtly upbeat ending: herself again after the baby's birth, Clay's mother finds him, and he begins to forgive her. Exquisitely crafted with spare but resonant detail (like describing, with wry wit, but not quoting the angry four-letter words of the stump people--and contrasting them to Clay's reiterated graffiti: ``Stop!'')--an absorbing, profoundly disturbing but ultimately hopeful story. (Fiction. 9+)

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1991
ISBN: 0-531-05962-6
Page count: 160pp
Publisher: Orchard
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 1991




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