cover image GEORGIE


Malachy Doyle, . . Bloomsbury, $13.95 (155pp) ISBN 978-1-58234-753-0

British author Doyle convincingly traces an orphaned 14-year-old's transformation from a mute and angry boy who shuns human contact to a young man coming to terms with his past and seeking the company of others. Narrator Georgie is about to move from the institution in which he currently lives to "a new home" in Wales. Readers quickly learn that there's nowhere to go but up: the room he is leaving consists of a bare mattress on the floor ("I wreck everything, that's why. Everything they give me, everything I ever owned. I rip it, break it or piss on it"). But his quarters at the new home come furnished with "a proper bed," stereo and mirror. Through the trust in and companionship with a patient and kind teacher, and the budding friendship with a kindred spirit, Shannon, Georgie gradually begins to reach out and even to speak. Slowly, he uncovers the horrible memories that have caused his retreat into silence. Several chapters from Shannon's point of view offer a bigger picture of the school and the other students. At times, the level of sophistication at which the boy can articulate his feelings seems implausible, however, especially since he was institutionalized at about age seven (for example, when a new orderly comes to deliver his medication and he pulls her hair, "I want to lift up her hair and crawl inside, hide from my anger, hide from myself, hide from the me that makes people afraid"). But his actions and responses to the world around him are so convincing that readers will likely overlook these narrative inconsistencies. Georgie's uplifting story demonstrates what a few people who genuinely care can do for another human being. Ages 12-up. (May)