cover image The Broken Boy

The Broken Boy

Karen Ackerman. Philomel Books, $14.95 (160pp) ISBN 978-0-399-22254-2

The new family next door is odd--but that's okay with Solly Freedom, who considers his own kin to be a little off-center. It isn't until Solly becomes friends with Daniel that he realizes just how different they are: Daniel is mentally disturbed and needs medication. Daniel's secret obsession with some old diaries he has discovered and his eerie interest in reincarnation draw Solly into a strange and fierce friendship. But when Daniel goes too far Solly has to choose between loyalty to his friend and the responsibility that friendship demands. Written in diary form (a therapeutic exercise for Solly), this gentle, thought-provoking book tackles a few too many difficult topics: physical and mental disabilities, suicide, reincarnation. Solly's relationship with the suicidal Daniel is rich and genuine, but might have benefited from more room--uncluttered by other issues--in which to grow. Still, there is valuable material to be found in this positive treatment of how the ``broken people'' of society touch our lives. Ages 12-up. (May)