THE CORNERSTONE by Randall Beth Platt


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A coming-of-ager likely to appeal only to those in the throes of adolescence themselves. YA author Platt’s latest adult fiction (The Four Arrows Fe-As-Ko, 1991, etc.) is set in the last days of WWII, at a boys— summer camp in the Pacific Northwest. Rear Admiral Ian McKenzie, invited to receive the dedication of a new lodge in his honor at good ol— Camp Roswell, slips back into a reverie, remembering the fateful summer he spent there—the summer that changed his life! A juvenile delinquent sent to camp as a charity case, young Ian is billeted in Deerslayer, the troublemakers— cabin (they’re all housed together so as not to infect the other boys with their mischief). Here, he meets Freddy (a compulsive overeater with a penchant for tall tales), G—Nat (with one braced polio leg), Curt (the dashingly handsome young leader), and their counselor Ackerman, who has been discharged from the Army’so rumor has it—for shell-shock. There are all the usual fistfights, crazy baseball games, stolen-boat excursions, and illicit late-night feasts in the dining hall, but the real turn of the plot comes with a special assignment for the boys in Deerslayer: they’re to build a new fireplace in the mess hall. Camaraderie develops as they work together, but it is Ian and Ackerman who form a special relationship, as Ian learns of the counselor’s addiction to morphine, the shrapnel in his head, and his impending death. Platt’s title comes from Ackerman’s obsession—finding the perfect cornerstone with which to begin the chimney, just as he serves as a cornerstone to Ian’s future. Lacking the resonance or sophistication of language which would move her work from teenage fare to an adult read, the author should consider which market she’s working in.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-945774-40-0
Page count: 256pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 1998


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