Johnnie Alone

Elizabeth Webster, Author St. Martin's Press $0 (273p) ISBN 978-0-312-01780-4
Although it skirts sentimentality at times, this tale of a young boy's search for his father has universal resonance. Johnnie is an abused child, made deaf by the repeated beatings of his brutal stepfather, and, at age 12, well known to social workers as the keystone of his little family, a bevy of half-brothers and sisters neglected by their flighty young mother. When, in an attempt to protect his mother, Johnnie brings about the death of his stepfather, he flees in panic. With angelic looks and artistic talent his only assets, he wends his way northward to Wales, where he has heard that his father once worked on the oil rigs. While his friends back homea social worker, a self-employed painter, a 13-year-old girl and a young nunengage in a search for the missing boy and his dog, he is variously befriended by others during his odyssey. Despite hardships, there are many idyllic moments on Johnnie's trek, particularly the happy ending and its promise. Webster is the author of Bracken (1985), also about a sensitive young boy. In this novel, she renders a Dickensian tyke whose appealing story will affect many readers. Reader's Digest Condensed Books Selection. (May)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1982
Release date: 01/01/1982
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