Lillian Eige, Author Atheneum Books $16 (176p) ISBN 978-0-689-83581-0
Eige (Cady) sets a mood of suspense from the outset with this taut psychological mystery. As the novel opens, 11-year-old Ben is out jogging and feels the presence of Ring, a peculiar but engaging neighborhood kid. But before the first chapter ends, readers learn that Ring has turned Ben's life upside down by vanishing into a river during a shared family outing. Set in a small Midwestern town, Ben's first-person account, told largely through flashbacks, recreates the mosaic of events that brings Ring's disappearance into focus: his sudden arrival in town, his apocryphal stories of a friend named Fox, and his oblique references to hiding as a way to stay safe. After a bumpy beginning, due to awkward shifts between present and past tense, Eige movingly narrates Ben's concern and affection for his new friend, while portraying his struggle to make sense of his own quirky family life. The author creates enough tension around Ring's disappearance and Ben's gradual piecing together of clues to keep readers hooked. The narrative sheds light on the boys' mutual struggle to be both independent and connected to fragile family ties. Ages 8-12. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 02/01/2001
Release date: 02/01/2001
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