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by Nicky Singer
Delacorte Press, 2002
Review by Christian Perring, Ph.D. on May 1st 2002
Feather Boy is a wonderful novel for young
adults. Robert is 12 years old. He gets picked on at school, and girls are
not interested in him at all. His
parents are divorced, and he lives with his mother. He and several children in his class are assigned to spend time
with old people from a local residential home.
Robert is assigned to Edith, an old lady who seems troubled by her past,
and this meeting changes his life.
Robert to go to Chance House, a local derelict building, and soon he learns the
story of a boy who jumped out of a window from the top of that building. He realizes that that boy was the son of
Edith. Robert also realizes that when
he visits Edith, the old lady becomes livelier, and although she seems quite
ill, he might be able to help her. But
in order to help Edith, he has face his own fears, and in particular, the bully
who is sometimes friendly to him and sometimes makes his life a misery. Because Edith matters to him, he does find
strength, and surprises even himself.
not so much the plot is impressive here.
Rather, its the quality of the writing, bringing alive the description
of the different characters, and the interactions between them. This is certainly helped by the compelling
reading by Philip Franks of the unabridged
audiobook; both author and reader are British, and so anglophiles will
especially enjoy the reading.
of the book refers to the legend of the firebird, which is indeed central to
the book. Some of the book is a little
earnest, and the morals that young people have something to learn from old
people, and that bullies have their own fears and weaknesses, may seem a little
too obvious, but they are nevertheless worth pointing out. They book even seems
a little old fashioned, being almost completely free of references to modern
culture, but that may be a strength, especially in enhancing its ability to
appeal to readers on both sides of the Atlantic.
© 2002 Christian Perring. First Serial Rights.
Christian Perring, Ph.D., is
Chair of the Philosophy Department at Dowling College, Long Island. He is
editor of Metapsychology Online Review. His main research is on
philosophical issues in psychiatry. He is especially interested in exploring
how philosophers can play a greater role in public life, and he is keen to help
foster communication between philosophers, mental health professionals, and the