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The Night of the Moonbow
The Night of the Moonbow
Author: Thomas Tryon
From Publishers Weekly — Tryon ( The Other ) sends Leo Joaquim, his orphaned 13-year-old hero, to Camp Friend-Indeed in Connecticut in the summer of 1938, and does his best to show that the behavior of the kids at this American-as-apple-pie camp parallels that of the Nazi movement in Germany. Gifted, troubled and therefore "different," Leo arouse...  more »
ISBN: 140951
Publication Date: 1989
Pages: 307
  • Currently 2.3/5 Stars.

2.3 stars, based on 2 ratings
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
Book Type: Hardcover
Members Wishing: 0
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In the summer of 1938, when Leo Joachim arrives at the ironically named Camp Friend-Indeed, he brings with him a set of serious problems. He is an orphan living at an orphanage, having previously been hospitalized for some sort of terrible trauma involving the deaths of his parents. Camp is supposed to provide him with some sort of respite from the terrors he has already faced in his life. Though he is a talented violinist and a naturalist with an interest in spiders, he has no interest in baseball or any other athletic contest by which the various camp units compete for the Hartsig trophy, given to the best unit at the camp.

Paired with Tiger, a sympathetic young man who appreciates Leo's talents and tries to ignore his differences from the other boys, Leo gets along pretty well, at first, though he remains somewhat apart from the other boys, preferring to ignore the special baseball practice and stay in the woods to observe an owl and practice his violin. When he violates some of the "sacred" camp traditions, Reese Hartsig, his counselor and the son of the camp's wealthy founder, worries that Leo may cost the Jeremiah unit the Hartsig trophy, and Reese becomes Leo's active enemy.

As he has done in so many other novels, Tryon builds inexorable suspense. As Reese begins to promote the "you're with me or against me" mentality among the other campers in the unit, the pressures on Leo increase cruelly, and he finds himself being shunned, mocked, cast out, and placed in increasingly dangerous situations, until he is finally summoned before a kangaroo court and tried by Reese and his camp-henchmen.

Though the characters are sometimes clichéd and the action sometimes predictable, the psychological torment of Leo is all too realistic, and most readers will recall similar nightmarish incidents from childhood. The setting in 1938 draws obvious parallels with the rise of Hitler, and Reese is clearly a "golden boy" who expects always to be part of the winning team, surrounded by yes-men. The cruel torments of Leo and his friend Fritz, the lone Jewish youth, show, within the microcosm of a boys' camp, the macrocosm of events in Europe. The climax is stunning, and while it may play on the heartstrings and be an easy way for the author to resolve the problems of Leo's torture, no reader will be disappointed by the final drama. Though this is not a psychological horror story on the level of Tryon's The Other, or even Harvest Home, it is a well-drawn novel of suspense which will appeal especially to young adults. Mary Whipple