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William Bell.
Toronto, ON: Irwin, 1986.
169pp., paper, $9.95.
ISBN 07725-1563-3. CIP.

Grades 7-9 / Ages 12-14

Reviewed by Michael Freeman.

Volume 14 Number 6
1986 November

Franklin Crabbe, in his own words, a "rich, spoiled, mixed up, semi-alcoholic teenager," rebels against the strict expectations of an autocratic father and hypocritical teachers. With a minimum of planning and expertise, surprising in a supposedly bright high school senior, Crabbe heads off into the dense woods, seeking freedom. Floating unconscious after his canoe tumbles over a hidden waterfall, he is rescued by a beautiful, mysterious woman with a hidden past. She befriends him, and teaches Crabbe the lore of the forest, and the eternal truths of human nature.

Crabbe, an apt pupil, falls in love with his mentor, and is devastated by her tragic death. Later, Crabbe almost perishes again, this time in an early winter snowstorm, and wakes up in a hospital bed under the care of a situation comedy psychiatrist. Re-united reluctantly with his parents, Crabbe attempts, with middling success, to follow the tenets laid down by his now almost sanctified woodland tutor. The book culminates with a long introspective monologue in which Crabbe seeks to adjust to his parents' world.

Although the middle segment of the story may carry the young adolescent along with its forest adventures, the didactic cardboard nature of most of the characters, and their constant admonitions on morality, will soon lose all but the most patient reader.

Michael Freeman, Bathurst Heights, S.S., North York, ON.
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