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March 31, 1985|VICKIE PUTNAM

THE FERRET FANCIER by Anthony C. West (Devin-Adair). West offers an excellent portrayal of the purgatory of puberty: that painful, confusing interlude between childhood and maturity. This coming-of-age novel chronicles a two-year period in the life of Simon, a boy growing up in post- Civil War Ireland. As a 12-year-old, Simon copes with the ruttiness of his awakening sexuality that is pushing him into manhood before his heart and mind are ready. Interwoven with the youth's obsession with sex is the intense questioning of existence, God and self when family and village become alien to Simon as he becomes a stranger to himself. Rebellion against a tyrannical schoolmaster and a father who only notices him when he is misbehaving tumbles the 14-year-old Simon into the world of adults. Entrance into this world does not bring maturity. Years later, Simon is as bewildered about life as an adult as he was during adolescence.

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