Ghost Boy

Iain Lawrence, Author Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers $15.95 (336p) ISBN 978-0-385-32739-8
Lawrence seamlessly shifts from the open sea (The Wreckers; The Smugglers) to landlubber territory with this tale of an albino boy who runs off to join the circus. Although the novel's premise may be familiar, there is nothing conventional about the author's portrayal of this taunted hero growing up in a post-WWII America. In lyrical prose, the narrative probes the isolation and alienation of 14-year-old Harold, better known as ""Ghost Boy."" As the novel opens, Harold awaits a train that does not stop (two years after the war, he still hopes his brother will be on it), when the Old Indian from Hunter and Green's Circus approaches him, posing as an exotic lure. With his father and brother both claimed by the war, his mother remarried to a banker, and the townspeople tormenting him because of his looks (""From the soles of his feet to the top of his head, his skin was like rich white chocolate, without a freckle anywhere""), Harold dreams of heading west. The circus provides his ticket out. Depicting the circus as a microcosm of society, Lawrence effectively conveys the universal desire for acceptance and approval. His knowledge of the big top and insight into humanity add depth to his writing as do vibrant images of circus life and razor-sharp characterizations (e.g., the tiny Princess Minikin, fur-covered Samuel the ""Fossil Man"" and the compassionate Gypsy Magda, a Holocaust survivor). This poignant adventure invites readers to look beyond others' outer appearances and into their souls. Ages 12-up. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/02/2000
Release date: 10/01/2000
Genre: Children's
Prebound-Sewn - 978-0-606-24119-9
Prebound-Glued - 326 pages - 978-0-7569-1103-4
Hardcover - 413 pages - 978-0-7862-3243-7
Mass Market Paperbound - 352 pages - 978-0-440-41668-5
Open Ebook - 251 pages - 978-0-375-89006-2
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