FICTION

Island

Groundwood. May 2019. 160p. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781773061924.
COPY ISBN
Gr 10 Up–When 17-year-old Konrad finds his father dead at the bottom of a ravine, his twin brother Key confesses potential responsibility. However, of the twins, Key has always been calm and caring while Rad’s emotions are extreme, typically tending toward rage. Before contacting the police, Rad seeks the truth, but his twin’s inability to explain their father’s death triggers an outburst of fury followed by dejection and a consideration of the family’s history. Through Rad’s scattered account of the past, readers learn that the twins’ mother died suddenly years earlier, that their father was mentally ill, and that Rad failed to sustain what could have been an amorous relationship with his best friend. Rad’s disjointed retelling often stops mid-sentence or abruptly changes perspective, making the teen an unreliable and rather confusing narrator, and although the twins have long been left to care for themselves, Rad reads older than his age and Key older still. Readers will struggle through the work’s long digressions into the meaning of happiness and the often-forced idea of the island as a metaphor.
VERDICT Rather than the history of Rad’s family that is conveyed, readers will be left wishing for the side of the story they do not receive.

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