A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
This winner of the French Prix Sorcieres is sure to get teen readers thinking about some tough philosophical issues, such as, is it possible for a murdered to become a good man?
The author imparts a message that redeption may be possible through love.
Positive Role Models
One of the main characters is a callous murderer, but is also a sympathetic character.
Violence & Scariness
Murders by knife and gun, a fox attacks and is killed, an execution by guillotine, a child attempts suicide.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A man and woman spend the night together, and it is implied that a teen and young adult have sex, some kissing.
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Not an issue.
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Products & Purchases
Not an issue.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Adults smoke and drink, a child has some wine.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this is a tough, bleak, and rather melancholy fable. A child's parents are murdered in their home by being stabbed in the throat, and a child attempts suicide. A cold-blooded murderer is also a sympathetic character. There is some implied sex and drinking. Even so, beautifully written and seamlessly translated, this winner of the French Prix Sorcieres is sure to get teen readers thinking about some tough philosophical issues, such as, is it possible for a murdered to become a good man?
Is It Any Good?
This book is beautifully written and seamlessly translated, and it has a horrifying fascination. It has the kind of world-view that you don't see much in American children's literature: Life is hard, bleak, and mostly pointless, and the best we can do is soldier on. It's a melancholy world in which a child can love the man who killed his parents for no particular reason, and that love can redeem the murderer, who is executed anyway by an indifferent bureaucracy, leaving the boy alone in the world.
The book lyrically offers a cynical view that sees a world filled with misery, betrayal, and stupidity. But adolescents in their more dramatic moments can see things in the same way, and will find in this lethal prose-poem a truth that they think most literature hypocritically hides from them. Parents may want to suggest a less somber read to help wash this book down.
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