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DEVIL'S DEN by Susan Beth Pfeffer

DEVIL'S DEN

By Susan Beth Pfeffer

Age Range: 8 - 12

Pub Date: April 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-8027-8650-2
Publisher: Walker

Pfeffer (Justice for Emily, 1997, etc.) takes a stab at the perennial theme of a child’s search for an idealized parent. Joey loves his stepfather, Ben, but can’t stop wondering about his long-absent biological father, Greg. He makes up intricate scenarios about what Greg is doing, and what their reunion will be like. When the family “adopts” a Civil War veteran and agrees to care for his grave and honor his memory, Ben and Joey take a trip to Gettysburg, to see the place where Joshua Gibbs fought for the Union—Devil’s Den. Both enjoy the trip, but on the ride home Ben tells a horrified Joey that he’s set events in motion to adopt him legally. Joey decides to find Greg, and after some sleuthing, phones him. To his disappointment, he realizes that Greg is not much of a prize and, further, that he has no intention of seeing Joey. His eyes opened at last, Joey comes to term with his imminent adoption. There isn’t a reader who won’t know that good-guy Ben will win over his son-to-be; the entire story is slight and predictable. Despite that, Joey’s acceptance of the facts of his life is believable and often touching. (Fiction. 8-12)