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A Place Called Ugly
Pantheon, 1981
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A Place Called Ugly

There’s no reasoning with Owen. The island cottage where he and his family have spent the last ten summers must be preserved. And he’s going to do it. Never mind that a bulldozer stands outside, ready to move in and level the place for a modern hotel. Never mind that summer’s over and Owen’s family is hurrying to catch the last ferry—or that school is starting—or that nobody sees it his way. Alone, fourteen-year-old Owen is going to stay and save the beautiful place others call ugly.

Story Behind the Story

My parents had a retirement home on Shelter Island, a quite enchanting and rather unusual island (wild canaries, bamboo groves, and bays filled with oysters and clams) at the end of Long Island, New York—about a hundred miles from New York City.

It was around Labor Day one year that I, along with my family, had been visiting my parents. My youngest son was endlessly grumbling about the fact that he was about to end his summer vacation and needed to return to school. Could he not, he constantly begged, just stay with his grandparents in this idyllic place? Well, no. read more

Awards and Honors

School Library Journal, starred review


“Avi … may be starting a whole new trend in novels for young people. His hero, 14-year-old Owen Coughlin, is not on drugs, doesn't drink, likes his college bound brother and sister when they are around, and lives with parents who do not exhibit signs of getting divorced. His folks are in the same boat as are most adults who encounter Owen. They don't understand him … he gives the islanders a memory of splendiferous youth they will not forget. I found myself cheering Owen on all the way.” (New York Times)

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