Bound To Stay Bound

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School Library Journal - 04/01/2018 Gr 4–7—Stranded on a menacing tropical island with no memories, a boy must confront the manifestations of his fears in order to find his past. When the unnamed boy awakens on a deserted beach, he has no idea who he is or how he got there. As he sets off to follow a light shining in the distance, a brutal internal voice nags at him, constantly berating and bullying him. Weighty themes like courage, love, will, and care for the defenseless haunt this archetypal journey. The path is also filled with rich symbols, such as a blanket and the titular beast and boat. With a sharp focus on the isolated protagonist and his internal struggle, it is character development that shines most clearly, though the external environmental dangers and the mystery keep the suspense taut. The portrayal of verbal abuse is not sugar-coated and lends itself to a discussion in the classroom or in a one-on-one conversation with young readers. The boy's father's remorse and repentance at the end comes across as idealistic and naïve despite the satisfying conclusion. VERDICT A poignant story that should be considered for medium and large collections.—Erin Reilly-Sanders, University of Wisconsin-Madison - Copyright 2018 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.

Booklist - 05/01/2018 A boy fights literal and metaphorical monsters in Clark’s debut novel. When he wakes up on an eerie island with no memory of who he is, the character known for the majority of the book as “the boy” tries to find his way home. The mean voice in his head telling him he’s worthless doesn’t help. Nor does the terrifying wolf that hunts him. But the boy perseveres, learning that our biggest fears don’t come from wolves or monsters, but from those who love us, even from ourselves. The creepy, atmospheric island gives the boy space to work through heavy issues, such as abandonment, death, and toxic masculinity. The fantastical elements turn some frightening situations into adventures, but the fear of failure and abandonment imbue the story with terrors that are all too real. It could be too much for some readers. But if readers are brave, like the boy, they will gain strength and insight from their time on the island. An unforgettable, life-affirming tale. - Copyright 2018 Booklist.

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