cover image A Likely Lad

A Likely Lad

Gillian Avery. Simon & Schuster, $16 (299pp) ISBN 978-0-671-79867-3

Avery ( Maria Escapes ; Maria's Italian Spring ) visits turn-of-the-century England in this flavorful historical novel. Trying to mold his son into the successful entrepreneur he himself wanted to be, Manchester shopkeeper Alfred Overs only succeeds in driving Willy deeper into his beloved books. When Willy eventually escapes the oppression of home, he learns the secret history of his father's fierce determination, and father and son are finally able to see eye-to-eye. Buoyant characters bring life to an enjoyably predictable plot, while period details lend color. Avery plumbs an often overlooked opportunity for depth in fashioning Willy's parents as both complex and likably fallible. Their die-hard need to keep up appearances adds poignancy--even from a child's perspective--to a very well-earned father-son reconciliation. Illustrations not seen by PW. Ages 8-12. (June)