Author: E.L. Konigsburg
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
When Amedeo moves to the suburbs for his mom’s work, he’s not really sure what to expect; everything’s so different from the city life he’s used to. What he is sure about is that he wants an adventure–to discover something that’s been hidden, some sort of treasure. As he helps his new best friend William Wilcox and his mom Mrs. Wilcox out, he gets the opportunity he’s been waiting for. These three are helping Amedeo’s eccentric, flamboyant neighbor, Mrs. Zender, get ready to move, pricing and sorting all the items she can’t take with her. There’s sure to be something interesting buried among all the paraphernalia of the once-wealthy, right? And regardless of the outcome, Amedeo is making sound friendships in his new home and experiencing a kind of life he’s never before imagined.
I admire E. L. Konigsburg’s writing deeply. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler has been a favorite of mine ever since I was in elementary school, and I feel that The Mysterious Edge of the Heroic World well lives up to the standard. It’s full of life and a keen observation of character. The people involved are unique and interesting–full of unexpected quirks, yet completely unassuming and natural in the way they’re written. I believe I could meet any of them on the street, they’re that sort of character, in the best sense. Furthermore, as with so many of Konigsburg’s books, this story places a significant emphasis on art–in this case the Modern, or Degenerate, Art that was spurned by the Nazis during the second World War. The connections drawn between art, history, humanity, and the present day are tasteful, touching, and completely credible. I was truly impressed. I think my only warning regarding this book is that, while it is definitely a children’s book (the main character’s something like 10), it doesn’t artificially protect readers from things like swearing, violence, and homosexuality; it’s beautifully, painfully honest, but in a way that protective parents might find problematic. Whatever. I absolutely give high recommendations to The Mysterious Edge of the Heroic World for readers young and old.
Note: This book is connected to Konigsburg’s other book The Outcasts of 19 Schuyler Place. You certainly don’t have to have read that one to enjoy The Mysterious Edge of the Heroic World, but it’s a neat extra for those who have.