cover image Raven Summer

Raven Summer

David Almond, . . Delacorte, $16.99 (198pp) ISBN 978-0-385-73806-4

In a thought-provoking coming-of-age story, British writer Almond (Skellig ; Clay ) delves into the darkest realm of the human psyche as he expresses the conflicting urges of an adolescent. Liam is walking with a friend when a mysterious raven leads them to an abandoned baby. The boys are lauded for bringing the infant safely home, but Liam doesn’t feel heroic. While he has enormous tenderness for the infant (and a pair of foster children he meets), he is deeply affected by acts of violence: sordid videos sent to him by a classmate, visceral accounts of war, and a local art gallery’s display of disturbing images. His mother dismisses the pictures as “voyeuristic trash,” but his father thinks they may have value: “Maybe they’re showing us how horrible the world is.” Liam’s views vacillate and his morals are tested several times, but never as dramatically as during a final reckoning, when violence seems the only way to save a friend’s life. Almond tackles complex questions about humanity from multiple points of view; flashes of wisdom—sometimes painful, sometimes uplifting—arrive at unexpected moments. Ages 12–up. (Nov.)