Monkey Island by Paula Fox

#46 in my book challenge for the year, and #22 in my summer reading challenge, was Monkey Island by Paula Fox. It’s a short, spare novel about a young boy forced to live on his own. The prose, like the story, is simple and stark. The story doesn’t pull punches, and the ending is redemptive but not at all artificial. Like Baby by Patricia MacLachlan, Monkey Island is a book for kids that is well written enough for all ages. It deals with dark stuff, but in truthful ways that are never cheap or gratuitous. A lot of popular young adult novels or novels for older kids are poorly written. There’s a common, not undeserved, perception that children’s and YA novels are not good enough to be marketed to adults. Books like this show what a reductive understanding that is.

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