Thursday, March 31, 2011

Harvey, Sarah N. Death Benefits

Harvey, Sarah N. Death Benefits
Orca 2010 212p 12.95
978-1-55469-226-2 hs VG-BN

Royce scarcely knows his grandfather Arthur, a world -renowned cellist, and a world-class grouch. When Royce accepts the job of providing care for his grandfather, he is surprised to discover a genuine liking for Arthur -- who poses Royce with a serious ethical dilemma when he asks Royce to help him to die. Under protest, 16-year-old Royce moves from Nova Scotia to British Columbia with his mother. Once they settle in, Royce contracts mono and is housebound. Stir crazy, lonely, bored, and friendless, Royce accepts his mother’s offer to look after his grandfather, Arthur, for $15/hour. Royce hopes to earn enough money to return to Nova Scotia.

Arthur is a grouch, retired (world famous) cellist. Despite the barrage of verbal abuse Arthur heaps upon Royce, Royce is surprised to find that he likes his grandfather. And even when Arthur provides Royce with keys to his car (and thus an escape to Nova Scotia) Royce stays on.

Arthur’s health briefly rallies, providing a glimpse of his younger, dynamic self, but then takes turn for the worse. Arthur doesn’t want to become incapacitated again and asks for Royce’s help to end his life.

Despite the slow start, teen readers will enjoy the well-developed characters and dialogue. Royce’s moral and ethical dilemma will spark debate. Realistic Fiction Welliver, Hilary

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