Review Blog

Feb 10 2009

Strays by Ron Koertge

cover image

Walker Books, 2008. ISBN 978140631612 4
Arriving at his placement with the inept Mrs Ervin, and another boy to be placed in tow, Ted thinks more about the dogs in the neighbourhood than the Rafters, the couple that has taken him in. Mr Rafter secretly tells him that he is in the upstairs room with Astin, who is about to graduate and so age out, when the room will be his own. But Ted is still stunned, coping with the fact of his parents' deaths and the fact that he is an orphan in the care of the state. He is confused, reticent and alone as he unpacks his meagre possessions and places them in his side of the room.
The only things Ted communicates with are the animals, as he talks to those that pass by, understanding their grumbles and foibles, better than he understands his own. Luckily the other two boys he is placed with are open and friendly and soon Ted finds himself talking more openly with people around him, including those at school, and understanding animals less.
I loved this book, as it tells of Ted's gradual ease back into society, helped along by Astin and his friends. The gentleness of the book struck me, there is no violence or outrageous behavior, but it is warm and non threatening, and Ted responds to this. He develops, despite the social worker, and the strange couple he lives with, into a young man with a future.
Fran Knight

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