Boy on the Edge
Teenage Henry was bullied and abused for his clubfoot and for his perceived slowness.... read more
Teenage Henry was bullied and abused for his clubfoot and for his perceived slowness. He bottled much of his rising anger until the day he exploded, hurting his mother and ending up in foster care at The Home of Lesser Brethren. The Home is run by a compassionate woman named Emily and her stern husband, Reverend Oswald. Henry doesn’t like Reverend Oswald’s religious teachings, or his method of correcting the boys’ bad behavior by making them rebuild the Cairn of Christ in the yard overnight or locking them in the Boiler Room to pray “for as long as it takes” to punish the devil out of them. Yet Henry is happier than he’s ever been, because of Emily’s kindness, and because he loves caring for the farm animals. When young Ollie arrives, Henry grows jealous of Emily’s attachment to the little boy, and is annoyed and embarrassed by Ollie’s obsession with poetry, language, and books. It is adult Ollie who is telling this story about Henry, who became, along with Emily, the heart and the hope of his childhood. A prologue reveals that Henry has died, and adult Ollie is regretting all the times he never went back home, where Henry never stopped waiting for him. At times tense, Fredrick Erlings’s novel reveals these and other characters, including other teens, to be a marvel of complexities as more and more about them is revealed through their actions and interactions. Henry himself, who we learn was never able to live independently, is perhaps the most insightful and observant of them all. (Age 14 and older)
© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2015
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