cover image Boy on the Edge

Boy on the Edge

Fridrik Erlings. Candlewick, $16.99 (240p) ISBN 978-0-7636-6680-4

Erlings (Fish in the Sky) delivers a moody, affecting character study of a troubled teenage boy. Henry “had never seen anyone as ugly as himself”; his odd appearance and clubfoot make him a target for bullies, and his stutter and difficulties with reading lead him to keep his emotions bottled up. When Henry takes his anger out on his mother, he is sent to a home for “troubled boys,” a farm run by a minister and his wife, Emily, on the barren lava fields of the Icelandic coast. Emily’s kindness and the solace Henry finds working with the farm’s cattle help him begin to feel at home. Erlings poignantly describes Henry’s longing for a friend and the pain of rejection. When the minister and Emily take in a delicate younger boy named Ollie Henry feels alone once again, but Ollie’s efforts to reach out and his love for books and stories give Henry a chance to heal. Though Henry’s story may be too quiet for some readers, it’s a poetic and powerful novel. Ages 14–up. (Feb.)