Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Winter Boy

The Winter Boy by Sally Wiener Grotta
Pixel Hall Press: 11/6/2014
eBook, 496 pages
ISBN-13: 9780988387133

A cloistered society of widows, the Alleshi, has forged a centuries-long peace by mentoring young men who will one day become the leaders of the land. Each boy is paired with a single Allesha for a season of intimacy and learning, using time-honored methods that include dialog, reason and sex. However, unknown to all but a hidden few, the peace is fracturing from pressures within and beyond.
Amidst this gathering political maelstrom, Rishana, a young new idealistic Allesha, takes her First Boy, Ryl, for a winter of training. But Ryl is a "problem boy," who fights Rishana every step of the way. At the same time, Rishana uncovers a web of conspiracies that could not only destroy Ryl, but threatens to tear their entire society apart. And a winter that should have been a gentle, quiet season becomes one of conflict, anger and danger.
My Thoughts:

The Winter Boy by Sally Wiener Grotta is a highly recommended dystopian science fiction coming-of-age novel.

Over the years peace has been established in the land by the Alleshi, a group of widows who train young men to become their Alemen, Blessed Boys. A strong bond will naturally develop between Alleshi and Alemen. Rishana, a young Allesha, is about to take her first Boy, Ryl. Rishana has been asked to do this even though she still has four months of training left. Ryl is categorized by all as a difficult young man.

As an Alleshi, Rishana must teach Ryl sensitivity, communication, and empathy - all things a good leader of men will need in order to maintain the peace, but she also must tutor him in sensual and sexual performance. Ryl must learn diplomacy and tact to help keep the peace someday. As Rishana and Ryl struggle to adjust under the Alleshi system to the many changes and each other, other facts are revealed that may shake the foundations of their orderly world.

The changes and growth that both characters experience during their time together help propel the story forward, as do the myths and legends that are shared as part of the learning process. What does it take to promote peace?

Although this is a page turner and a compelling plot, it also requires the reader to buy into the Alleshi system (and all the name changes that apparently accompany it), as well as accept the whole idea of Alleshi using sex to train young men. In the end it was a very good book and well written. I'm sure there will be many 5 star reviews for it.

Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy of Pixel Hall Pres via Netgalley for review purposes.

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