The Mysterious Edge of the Heroic World by e.l. konigsburg
Finished: Apr. 16, 2009
First Published: 2007 (paperback out March, 2009)
Genre: children, YA, realistic fiction
Reason for Reading: Received a Review Copy from Simon & Schuster Canada.
In the late afternoon on the second Friday in September, Amedeo Kaplan stepped down from the school bus into a cloud of winged insects.
Comments: Amedeo Kaplan, a new boy in town, is our main character and he has always wanted to discover something that was lost but that nobody knew was lost, such as a dinosaur or the Lascaux caves. Next door to him is an elderly lady preparing to move into a retirement settlement and she is packing up and sorting through her worldly goods looking for keepers and estate sale fodder. Aida Lily Tull Zender is a flamboyant, self-serving, outspoken, crotchety, former operatic (though second-tier) star. Helping her is the estate agent and her son William, whom Amedeo befriends. When Amedeo finds a sketch behind some books in the library then goes to an Art Show in the city with his Godfather a painful secret is discovered. A mystery from the past of World War II involving the Nazis and a Jewish family close to Amedeo is discovered and solved.
This is a slow paced story with a lot of wonderful ambiance and feeling to it. The plot is slow and unwinds very slowly until the last third where is quickly reveals itself. While the plot is, of course, important, the characters themselves are more important. Getting to know the background of Mrs. Zender and what drives her as a person along with that of the Jewish family members is so important to the theme of the story which explores the thin line between what makes an act heroic and who decides if it is heroic or not. A very compelling read with an atmosphere that is almost visible hanging over the pages of the book as you read. Being a character driven story, I'd recommend the book to older children, perhaps 12+. e.l. konigsburg is one of my favourite authors since childhood whom I always go back to and catch up with every now and then and it is always a delight. I have yet to meet a book of hers I haven't liked.