The Island of Beyond

288p. Lerner/Carolrhoda. Apr. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781467781169.
Gr 4–6—Friendless and fussy, 11-year-old Martin lives in a small world. He spends his time at home, surrounded by his favorite video games and comic books. Three pillows decorate his bed: a regular one for his head, a striped one for hugging, and a fuzzy one for hiding things. Dad doesn't understand why Martin doesn't do "normal boy stuff," so he drops Martin off on Beyond Island, where Martin will spend the summer with his great-aunt Lenore. Martin hates everything about the island until a wild boy catches his attention. Solo does not answer to parents or go to school. He canoes, sleeps outside, and feeds himself. For the first time in his life, Martin discovers feelings he's never had before. Martin finds he must step out of himself in order to grow. The story line includes adventure, mature awareness, friendship, and a gay couple coping with the conservative attitudes of an island society. As Martin begins to open up to Solo and others, he finally starts to accept himself, even as he learns the hard truth that not everyone will always support him.
VERDICT A gently told coming-of-age story distinguished by its beautifully described island setting.

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