The Broken Boy

The Broken Boy

by Karen Ackerman

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The new family next door is odd--but that's okay with Solly Freedom, who considers his own kin to be a little off-center. It isn't until Solly becomes friends with Daniel that he realizes just how different they are: Daniel is mentally disturbed and needs medication. Daniel's secret obsession with some old diaries he has discovered and his eerie interest in reincarnation draw Solly into a strange and fierce friendship. But when Daniel goes too far Solly has to choose between loyalty to his friend and the responsibility that friendship demands. Written in diary form (a therapeutic exercise for Solly), this gentle, thought-provoking book tackles a few too many difficult topics: physical and mental disabilities, suicide, reincarnation. Solly's relationship with the suicidal Daniel is rich and genuine, but might have benefited from more room--uncluttered by other issues--in which to grow. Still, there is valuable material to be found in this positive treatment of how the ``broken people'' of society touch our lives. Ages 12-up. (May)
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up-- This story is about mental illness, senility, physical disabilities, suicide, and reincarnation. It's a big bite to chew in such a brief novel. Solly, the narrator, is confused about where to begin and what readers need to know in order to understand. Thus, he skips around, telling about Daniel, his brother, and their parents--his new neighbors; the previous owner of the house, an elderly widow; and his ex-hippie parents and family history. This disjointed start is sure to leave readers in a muddle. Mixed in are hints of the ending. Readers know immediately that mentally ill Daniel is the ``broken boy''; at the very beginning, Solly says that he has disappeared and that, ``I think I know where Daniel Ferris is. And that's the story I want to tell.'' Solly is alternately incredibly wise and unbelievably naive. His blindness to Daniel's intent to kill himself is particularly hard to accept. The widow, Solly's beloved friend, has never allowed him in her house, and her son describes her as incompetent to care for herself. The pictures never fit together into whole people. And the original promise to tell where Daniel is now is completely unfilled. At book's end, he is in a coma; he had hoped to die and come back into a better body, one without the need for special schools and medication. That this could have been a hauntingly emotional story is undeniable; there is a real sense of pain. Where the book fails is in its ability to bring Solly and the other characters to life. Because the initial promise to tell where Daniel is now and make sense of his life is unfulfilled, readers will feel cheated. --Carol A. Edwards, Buckham Memorial Library, Faribault, MN

Product Details

Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
20.00(w) x 20.00(h) x 20.00(d)

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