The Redemption of Elsdon Bird

Noel Virtue, Author Grove/Atlantic $15.95 (122p) ISBN 978-0-8021-0022-1
The protagonist of this first novel is a sensitive young boy being raised in New Zealand by parents who belong to a fanatical religious cult called The Brethren. Much is made of young Elsdon's morbid fantasiesthe book opens as he finds the skeleton of a dead baby in the atticand we are never sure what is and isn't real. Did Elsdon's best friend really murder his two siblings? Did a ""Chinaman'' really eat his cat? One thing that we are sure of is Elsdon's mother's brutality. When his father disappears his mother goes over the edge, beating Elsdon until he blacks out and dragging him into a more and more degrading lifestyle. The author piles on one horror after another, focusing so intently on Elsdon's misery that the other characters are poorly developed and never adequately explained. In spite of the imaginative premise, the novel reads like a case history of child abuse. (September 7)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1987
Release date: 01/01/1987
Paperback - 200 pages - 978-0-7206-1166-3
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