Henry Holt & Company, Hardcover, 9780805092035, 403pp.
Publication Date: December 7, 2010
When fourteen-year-old Nicholas Dane’s mother dies, social services sends him to a home for boys where intimidation and violence keep order. After a number of fights and brutal punishments, Nick thinks that life can’t possibly get any worse . . . until he realizes that the home’s respected deputy head, who has been grooming him with sweets and solace, has something more frightening in mind.
Acclaimed writer and truth-teller Melvin Burgess brings us, with Dickensian scope and compelling narrative drive, his most ambitious book yet.
“A fierce advocate for young people in all his books, Burgess pulls no punches in this story.”--Los Angeles Times
“As unsettling as readers will find this dark story, it is no Dantesque vision but rather a tough examination, an almost sociological case study at times, of what happens when a pretty good kid enters a truly bad system. Readers familiar with Dickens's Nicholas Nickleby and Oliver Twist will find obvious parallels here that will deepen their appreciation for Burgess's novel.”--Horn Book Magazine“While it is disturbing to think that the plot of Oliver Twist slots seamlessly into a more contemporary story, Burgess’ stark realism and unflinching portrayal of the life and prospects of kids trapped in an ineffectual juvenile care system is undeniably credible, mostly because he is so effective in creating psychologically complex characters.”--BCCB “Burgess is a genius in drawing readers into a compelling, dramatic, and candid read. He examines the dark underbelly of society and the powers that corrupt and exploit its youth, yet offers an ultimately positive and hopeful message. This book will stay with readers long after they put it down.”--School Library Journal "A powerful and gripping tale…Harrowing and intense, and he excels at getting inside the heads and motivations of his many flawed characters.”--Publishers Weekly “A small note of hope ends this gripping but harsh tale.”--Kirkus Reviews
“Burgess writes with harrowing authenticity about the dynamics of abuse, and the fragile healing suggested at the book’s end will leave readers asking wider questions about how best to reclaim and protect society’s most vulnerable individuals.”--Booklist