The Stone Silenus


Book: The Stone Silenus

Author: Jane Yolen 

Jacket Illustrator: Robert Marstall

Publisher: Philomel, 1984

ISBN-13: 978-0399209710

ISBN-10: 0399209719

Website(s): (book)

Language level: 3

(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)

Recommended reading level: Ages 12-15

Rating: **** 4 stars

(5 stars=EXCELLENT; 4 stars=GOOD; 3 stars=FAIR; 2 stars=POOR; 1 star=VERY POOR; no stars=NOT RECOMMENDED)

Category: Mystery

Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker

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     Yolen, Jane. The Stone Silenus (Published in 1984 by Philomel Books, a division of The Putnam Publishing Group, 51 Madison Ave., New York City, NY  10010).  Sixteen year old Melissa Stanhold lives in New York City, NY, with her mother Marya and younger sister Melanie, thirteen.  But they have an oceanside summer home where they often spend weekends in Montauk, NY, with a stone statue of Silenus, a mythological Greek satyr, sitting on the porch.  The girls’ father Joshua Stanhold, a famous poet and screen writer who identified with fauns and satyrs, had been found dead under mysterious circumstances in a Denver, CO, motel swimming pool while on a tour the year before. 

     In October, a year after Mr. Stanhope had died, the Stanhopes are spending a weekend in Montauk along with Joshua’s literary agent and executor Henry Marlow and his son Richie, and a strange young man about her own age appears to Melissa, seeming to be the reincarnation of her beloved father’s spirit.  He knows her father’s special pet name for her and other private aspects of Melissa’s relationship with her father.  Why, he even looks a little like Joshua when he was a teenager.   She thinks of him as a faun-boy and calls him Gabriel.  Just who is this person?  Is Melissa simply imagining him or dreaming about him?  Might he be a reincarnation of her father or maybe the stone Silenus come to life with Joshua’s spirit? 

     This is an odd but interesting story.  There are some bad language (the “d” word and “bastards”), a short reference to Melissa’s periods, some discussion of suicide (Melissa walks into the deep water to feel what it is like to drown, but Gabriel rescues her), talk about offering someone “a stiff drink,” and mention of reincarnation.  Marya and Henry announce their plans to get married later, but Melissa accidentally finds them in bed together one night.  The bottom line is that this is a book about a girl whose poet father committed suicide and how she comes to terms with it. Along the way there is a mystery.

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