Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Mysterious Edge of the Heroic World
by E. L. Konigsburg

The Mysterious Edge of the Heroic World
E. L. Konigsburg
Grades 5 and up

The Mysterious Edge starts with introducing the reader to Amadeo Kaplan, a recent transplant to St. Malo, Florida from New York City. Starting sixth grade, Amadeo has a dream—he does not want to be a sports, music or rock star but he wants to discover something, anything, that no on knows has been lost until he uncovers the buried treasure. Shortly after beginning school, Amadeo meets William Wilcox also a sixth grader. William Wilcox is the sort of person everyone knows about but is not the “popular” kid in school but he is not the bully either. Everyone thinks there is a story there, but no one knows what it is. William’s mother has been hired by Amadeo’s neighbor to liquidate her estate so she can move to a retirement community.

A second storyline begins with Peter Vanderwaal. Peter is Amadeo’s godfather and is the art director for Sheboygan Art Center. He is preparing for an important art exhibit about Degenerate Art. Degenerate Art is Hitler’s term for anything he deemed inappropriate during World War II. Mostly modern art, but also works done by Jewish artists, he had them banned, confiscated and displayed for everyone to see why they should not appreciate the art. While preparing for the exhibit, Peter’s father passes away. His mother gives him a metal box belonging to his father. At his mother’s insistence, he reluctantly takes it only to discover it is what he believes to be the beginning pages of his father’s memoir.

Eventually the two storylines come together, leaving the reader in disbelieve, shock and finally satisfied. What the reader might not know at the beginning is the story takes a turn into the hallowing face of World War II and the Holocaust, opening the readers eyes to another aspect of World War II not as well know.

I have been digesting this book for the last couple days trying to put my finger around it. You know the two storylines would eventually come together so I spent the first part trying to figure out how that was going to happen. I also have to admit I had a hard time with Mrs. Zender’s character. I still cannot tell if I liked or hated her. While she leaves a sour taste in my mouth at the end, I could also see the positive if not the good, in her. I liked that this novel approached the World War II and the Holocaust from another side than traditionally told. While we have all undoubtedly read a story surrounding Jewish persecution, this one has some about Jews being persecuted but mainly discusses Homosexuals persecution. It also told the story of Degenerate Art, which I have never read about.

**Possible Red Flags** Homosexuality is mentioned in this book. It is told through the eyes of Peter’s father who at the time, did not even realize his brother was indeed homosexual. It also alludes to Mrs. Wilson being abused by her husband though never directly mentions it so it may pass right over readers heads.

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