[A] moody, affecting character study... . Erlings poignantly describes Henry's longing for a friend and the pain of rejection. ... [A] poetic and powerful novel.
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
In contrast with his sparse outward expression, Henry's rich inner life is conveyed in lush, beautiful passages describing his deep longing for friendship, his anger and guilt about his mother, his frustration with Emily's dogmatic reverend husband, and his growing love for the harsh yet comforting Icelandic landscape surrounding the farm. Full of poetic renderings of the craggy terrain, Erlings' sophisticated, character- driven story builds slowly as Henry learns gratifying truths about love and family.
In this Icelandic import we enter a world of spare, Bergman-esque intensity and darkness, with a landscape of lava rock and steep cliffs, that is unforgiving and steeped in stories of tragedy and entrapment. ... A deeply engaging story.
—The Horn Book
Readers will be drawn into Henry's world. Engrossing and finely wrought.
—School Library Journal
The themes and ideas are universal, especially for troubled readers who are looking for characters to relate to in their own lives. ... This is a touching story that will stay with the reader for a while.
The story is told from Henry's point of view; the characters and plot are believable. ... The book's portrayal of religion as used by the home's director to bully the boys on the farm is well done and realistic.
—Library Media Connection