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Posted August 29, 2009
David Pabian's little novel Leatherstone is a (so-far) undiscovered jewel of a book. Technically, I guess, it's in the "young adult category," but that's like saying to Kill A Mockingbird or Lord of the Flies or Stand by Me is a "young adult book." The sweet quality of the writing, the humanity of the characters, and the riveting story all transcend genre boundaries. And comparison to these other works is not facile. This book is that good.
The narrator, John Garrett, dubbed "Champ" by his father for the way he clung to life in an incubator, take us back to the central event of his childhood. That's the arrival in his 12-year-old life of Jasper Leatherstone, an apparently dead homeless man Champ comes across one winter day alongside a frozen river.
Champ's widowed father travels a lot, trying to scratch out a living for Champ and his mentally-challenged sister Lizzie. Along with Champ's alcoholic Uncle Caleb, they all live "on the wrong side of the wrong side of the tracks." Still, there is love in the house. Champ is especially and endearingly devoted to his "slow" sister.
Champ's abiding passion at that time in his life is the Frankenstein myth. He envisions himself as a future scientist. He believes it is possible to "reanimate" a corpse with just the proper application of electricity, despite failed experiments with animals. And now fate presents him with an actual dead human. He secretly drags the corpse home and applies the electrical treatment.
This time he meets with apparent success. The man indeed comes back to life, but with no memory of who he is or anything about his past. As Champ hides him from the rest of the world, a touching friendship grows up between them - up to the climactic revelation that Leatherstone is an escapee from Death Row.
To say more would spoil the emotional impact of the book. Read it yourself, and tell your friends about it. This is a beautiful novel aching to be discovered.
Michael Graham, author of The Snow Angel
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Posted May 21, 2010
This novel treats an off-beat youngster's world to the searchlight of the author's vision revealing in high relief the world of the nineteen fifties and a young kid's search for the impossible, ending with dramatic moral transformation. Allusions to classic movies and an incisive description of characters leaves the reader in a world that seems imaginary but turns out to be true to life. This author doesn't hold back but remains a gentle and sensitive story teller.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.