The Grasshopper King by David Stanley


The Grasshopper King Reviewed by Diane Pollock

Brothers without mothers.

So the young protagonist Cosmas self-describes his tribe of orphans at the Catholic Toner Institute. This is a sad tale of a young boy, all but deserted by his family and forced to grow up in an unloving institution. The author’s own experiences growing up in such a “home” lend veracity and grit-you almost feels as if you are there yourself. However, the tale still rings with Cosmas’s strong sense of hope and optimism, the boy shines forth with a deep ability to love.

In part, this is also the tale of another, Cosmas’s father Burt. Burt is an alcoholic, mean when he drinks hard liquor, who drives his wife away with abuse, and thus loses his sons also. But he is not a simple character, easily dismissed. He is an astoundingly talented violinist who once played for a symphony and now, sadly, only plays for free drinks. The son’s love for the lost father is heartbreaking not only to the reader, but also to Burt himself who simply wishes to fade away quietly.

There is, as yet, no happy ending to this coming of age tale. But, fortunately, this is the first volume in a larger work.


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