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Paul deGrosbois
Montreal, La courte echelle, 1991. 160pp, paper, $7.95
ISBN 2-89021-167-3. CIP

Grades 9 and up/Ages 14 and up

Reviewed by Jeannette Charbonneau

Volume 20 Number 3
1992 May

This young adult novel touches on themes that are relevant today: the danger of questionable medical practices, friendship, and alienation.

Eric Lindsman, a high school student, works in the restaurant Chez Hugo during the summer. Eric always wears dark glasses, as he suffers from a strange illness. For years, he has gone from one hospital to another without any doctor finding a cure.

Eric is the result of in vitro fertilization and genetic manipulation. Unfortunately for him, there were complications - high blood pressure and partial blindness. His father has taken him across the country to find a cure. Many issues pertaining to genetic research are raised: exploitation of human lives, death of animals, the competition that exists between scientists in order to obtain prestige, government funding, social vs. private medical plans. De Grosbois skilfully relates the story of Eric - a human guinea pig. Un mal etrangequestions the validity of scientific research and emphasizes the moral and ethical issues involved.

The author masterfully maintains the suspense. Isabella, a student journalist, attempts to report on the murder of a scientist. Eric's father's clandestine activities, the inexplicable death of his mother, and Eric's secret desire to lead a normal life add credibility to the story. Young adult readers would identify with his need for friends, love and acceptance.

Paul de Grosbois has written a well-paced novel. The chapters are fairly short and will therefore sustain the interest of Immersion or second language students. This book will be enjoyed by young adult readers.

Jeannette Charbonneau, River Heights Junior High School, Winnipeg, Man.

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