April 16, 2013
Kidnapped by a circus
The Boy in the Box
by Cary Fagan
Eleven-year-old Sullivan Mintz helps his parents run the Stardust Home for Old People. Operating on the point of bankruptcy, they don't have time to deal with his problems. Nor do they take his interest in juggling seriously. So when the travelling medicine show comes by, he's naturally intrigued. The performers are kids his own age. But when he steps onstage as a volunteer, he ends up being kidnapped!
Sullivan is frightened at first, but his homesickness soon wears off. Life with the medicine show is much more interesting than his ordinary life. He can't help but admire the other kids' talents and stage presences. They even help him develop his own juggling act. Meanwhile, his parents are left mourning his supposed death and his little sister Jinny is still out looking for him. But after his successful stage debut, Sullivan's developed a taste for show business and found himself a new family. He may try to escape, but for now, he's happy.
The Boy in the Box is a very unusual novel. The children are prisoners. They're locked in the caravan every night, and punished if they try to contact their families. Yet they enjoy the life they now have. It's as if they're all bewitched to some degree. It's up to the reader to decide whether Sullivan is better off. Full of ethical dilemmas,The Boy in the Box would be a good choice for a book club discussion.