TeenLit Book Reviews

October 2000

The Rag and Bone Shop

Robert Cormier

The Rag and Bone Shop, by Robert Cormier is an engrossing mystery novel written for a mature teenage audience. The rating is a 3 (1-4, with 4 being the best). The author explores themes of crime, guilt, innocence, morality, and sadness. The main characters are Alicia, a seven year old girl who is found murdered, Jason, a twelve year old neighborhood boy, Brad, Alicia’s brother, and a relentless interrogator named Trent. The plot unfolds mostly in dialogue as the characters of Trent and Jason are developed during a long interrogation in which Jason is the main suspect for Alicia’s murder, since he may have been the last person to see her while she was alive. The title of the book was taken from a line of a Yeats poem. “I lie down where all the ladders start, In the foul rag-and-bone shop of the heart” These lines underscore both the theme of the novel, and the mind of the interrogator, Trent. Cormier's strength lies in his skill of character development with unexpected details about body movement and thought process. The book reads easily, but seems to end abruptly before many questions are answered.
Reviewed by Katie. Grade: ----- in San Francisco, -