Laurel Gale (Juvenile Fiction)
Being dead stank. Literally. With everything rotting, decaying, and decomposing, it really did stink. And let’s not talk about the maggots and the skin falling off and the hair falling out. Death was really the pits and eleven-year-old Crow Darlingson should know because Crow is dead. Well, dead but somehow alive. If you ask Crow what’s worse than being dead, he would tell you that it’s being alone. Loneliness really stank. But along came Melody Plympton, his new neighbor, who somehow accepted his deadness. Just when things were looking up, Crow and Melody discover a terrifying and mysterious creature hiding in the park. A monster that also grants wishes. Could this same creature be the cause of Crow’s unusual existence? Could Crow somehow wish himself a normal life? Crow is willing to face whatever tests and dangers the monster throws at him. After all, once you’re dead, what’s the worst that can happen?
Dead Boy is Laurel Gale’s debut novel and she sure delivers! She delights and entertains readers with a creepy, ghoulish, sweet, and imaginative story that’s full of heart. Although it’s labeled as a “horror” story and depicts scenes of maggots falling out of various body parts at inappropriate times (not that there’s an appropriate time), Dead Boy is really a story about a young boy wanting to be accepted and longing for a friend. Anyone who’s ever wanted a friend who liked and accepted them for just the way they are will empathize with Crow and his unfortunate situation.
What I found refreshing about Crow was his ability to see the positive in any situation and to enjoy what little pleasure life might happen to toss his way. Here’s a boy with no friends, unable to eat food, incapable of sleep, and whose entire existence is spent indoors surrounded by the safety of air conditioning (he lives in the desert of all places), yet he delights in the simple act of lying beneath the stars and gazing up at the night’s sky. He’s selfless, understanding, intelligent, loyal, and a true friend in every sense of the word. He’s probably one of the most unlikely protagonists that I’ve come upon in a long time and I certainly hope he won’t be the last.
Near the end of the book, when the dust has settled after all of his exploits and adventures, Crow realized something important that beautifully sums up the meaning of this book: “Maybe having friends wasn’t as important as having the right friends”.
*Book cover image attributed to www.goodreads.com
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