STEPHEN FAIR by Tim Wynne-Jones


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Recurrent nightmares and a strong feeling that his mother is hiding something haunt a teenager in this ethereal novel from Wynne-Jones (The Maestro, 1996, etc,). At 15, Stephen has disturbing dreams of a tree, a fire, and a baby crying---dreams he seems to have 'inherited"" from his older brother, Marcus, who left home four years ago. He can't keep them from his loving, hovering mother Brenda, but he can refuse the psychotherapy and other treatments that didn't work for Marcus. While his social life moves in a promising direction, toward friendship with beautiful, brilliant Virginia Skye, his inner turmoil, driven by lack of sleep and his lingering guilt over the departure of his father, Doug, gives rise to tensions at home. Wynne-Jones seldom flatly describes a character's feelings or state of mind; instead, he conveys them through quick, telling details and comments, or heavily symbolic background events. Stephen is surrounded by an unusual, distinctive supporting cast, and compelled by a series of artfully revealed hints that lead at last to truth: Doug and Brenda stole him away from his neglectful birth parents when Stephen was only a baby. Brenda's lies, Doug's departure, even the nightmares--linked to suppressed memories--all arise from that act, but Stephen is strong enough to weather the storm, and wise enough to offer Brenda an olive branch at the end. An intense study in friendship and troubled family relations, in which the steadiest characters are the teenagers.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1998
Page count: 218pp
Publisher: DK Ink