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Nugent, Jacqueline.

Vancouver, Groundwood Books, c1984. 160pp, paper, $7.95, ISBN 0-88899-023-5. Distributed by Douglas & McIntyre. CIP

Grades 5 and up
Reviewed by Sue Easun

Volume 13 Number 1
1985 January

In this novel, a twelve-year-old boy who deeply resents the fact that his widowed father has left him to be raised by his grandfather meets a pubescent girl, emotionally unable to accept her club foot. Strangers at first, they flee a burning movie theatre together and find that the fire exit leads them, not to safety, but to a strange new world. Their lives become inextricably entwined when they are jailed as loonies in a mental asylum because they do not fit in with everyone else. They mastermind a daring escape with three other inmates; in the guise of Questors, they must work at solving their personal problems before they will be allowed to return home.

Certainly, fantasy provides a most attractive backdrop for dealing with human fears and conflicts, but in the hands of this painfully self-conscious writer, psychological elements are used as excuses for what happens next rather than as motivations for richly deserved growth in the realm of imagination. As a result, so much emphasis is placed on a contrived plot that discriminating readers may feel they have been cheated of something far more relevant. Recommended, but with definite reservations.

Sue Easun, Toronto, Ont.
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