cover image The Eagle Kite

The Eagle Kite

Paula Fox. Orchard Books (NY), $15.95 (127pp) ISBN 978-0-531-06892-2

Liam's father is dying of AIDS. His mother tells him a recent blood transfusion is to blame, but Liam knows she's lying, because his sex-education class has taught him about the improved safety of transfusions and, more importantly, because of an elusive scrap of memory. Soon, that memory surfaces-several years ago, he had glimpsed his father embracing a man at the beach. Liam's anger at his family's refusal to be honest with him, as well as the shame and betrayal he feels over his father's homosexual affair, is almost insurmountable. Only when he spends time alone with his father, who has removed himself to a cabin by the sea, does the rift between them begin to be healed. Fox (The Slave Dancer; Western Wind) tackles this weighty subject with characteristic aplomb and grace. Though dispassionate, Fox's prose is fraught with perception; it is even at times transcendent. Describing the truth that Liam has been forced to acknowledge but cannot bring himself to share with others, she writes: ""He felt it packed inside of him like a furled parachute, grief and anger and puzzlement. A touch on the rip cord, that one word, would release the whole of it."" The author's refusal to diminish the tangled emotional issues that underlie her story quietly challenges all preconceptions, and readers cannot help but be deeply affected. Ages 11-14. (Apr.)