The Only Outcast

Julie Johnston, Author Tundra Books (NY) $14.95 (232p) ISBN 978-0-88776-441-7
The author of Hero of Lesser Causes and Adam and Eve and Pinch Me offers a leisurely paced coming-of-age novel tinged with mystery. In the summer of 1904, Fred Dickinson, a 16-year-old Canadian, sets out with his two younger brothers and sister for their annual vacation at their grandparents' lakeside cottage. Still missing his mother, who died three years ago, Fred is relieved to escape his overbearing and critical father, who, Fred declares, ""finds it too nerve-wracking to have me stuttering and stumbling around him all day."" Through carefully mapped scenes, Johnston traces Fred's maturation as he rescues various siblings from danger, receives a first, painful lesson in love and discovers the truth behind the local legend involving a murderous ferryman. The book contains a good deal of action, but its main focus remains on Fred's internal growth. Instead of molding himself to fit his father's rigid expectations, Fred chooses to follow his own path like the migrating geese, who are ""curious about their destination, but always moving forward, taking the right direction by instinct."" A subtle, beautifully polished work. Ages 11-up. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 08/03/1998
Release date: 08/01/1998
Genre: Children's
Prebound-Sewn - 978-0-606-19122-7
Prebound-Other - 236 pages - 978-0-613-28008-2
Paperback - 248 pages - 978-0-88776-488-2
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