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THE BOY FROM THE BASEMENT by Susan Shaw Kirkus Star


by Susan Shaw

Age Range: 12 & up

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2004
ISBN: 0-525-47223-1
Publisher: Dutton

Charlie, 12, can’t read and doesn’t even know his last name. He does know he’s being punished because he’s bad. Father (who is plainly psychotic) keeps Charlie locked in the basement, allowing him to scavenge for food only at night; his frightened mother does nothing to help. One night he steps outside briefly, and the wind blows the door shut behind him. Terrified, he runs into the street, where he’s found and hospitalized. Because he has never gone to school, he knows nothing of the simplest things like Halloween and is convinced that he’s in danger if he goes outside. His struggle to understand his new life in a loving home and his terror of an imaginary, enormous spider that represents his father are more powerful, since it’s Charlie who tells the story. Shaw’s simple language and sentence structure effectively contribute to the realism of her psychological tale, even as she avoids a too-vivid description of physical abuse. This affecting, ultimately uplifting examination of a boy’s recovery from extreme child abuse is a stunner and certain to attract readers. (Fiction. 12+)