From School Library Journal
Grade 7 Up Joseph Merrick, who lived in England from 1862 to 1890, was afflicted by tumors of fibrous tissue which made him grossly deformed. Reduced to being placed in a dismal workhouse and later in a traveling freak show, Merrick was made to feel like an outcast because of his appearance. Rescued from his destitute state by a surgeon, Frederick Treves, Merrick was able to stay in rooms of the London Hospital. As well as looking after his economic welfare, Treves looked after Merrick's mental health by integrating him to a limited extent into a social life. Writing a successful biography for young people about the horrifying aspects of physical deformity is not an easy task, but Drimmer does it well, pacing the book so that it has interest and drama in every chapter. Drimmer's descriptions of Victorian England are authentic in detail and atmosphere. The drama of goodness and evil in people within a particular society is graphically and concisely conveyed within the framework of the lives of Merrick and Treves. The pain and happiness in Merrick's life are succinctly and dramatically brought out in relevant and emotionally charged scenes. Equally well displayed are Treves' kindness and integrity, so that he becomes as much of a hero as Merrick himself. Drimmer presents his facts superbly in language containing a skillful balance of simplicity and insightful nuances. After reading this book, young people should have a clearer understanding of what a person with a severe deformity faces. Extending such understanding are 14 black-and-white photos and drawings. These visuals aptly underscore the textual revelations of Merrick's terrible infermities. Hope Bridgewater, Halifax City Regional Library, Nova Scotia, Canada
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc.