The Island of Worthy Boys

Written by Connie Hertzberg Mayo
Review by Laura Fahey

The Island of Worthy Boys, the debut novel from Connie Hertzberg Mayo, is the gritty and very affecting coming-of-age story of Aidan Sullivan and Charles Wheeler, two boys living a hardscrabble life on the streets of 1889 Boston.

When the boys become suddenly entangled in a crime, they impulsively flee, conning their way into the Boston Farm School, a formal boys’ school located on one of the Boston Harbor Islands, hoping to hide out there from pursuit from Boston. But the Boston Farm School is run by a strict master who is rigorous about keeping the reputation of his school sterling clean, and thus Charles and Aidan begin facing increasing amounts of unwanted scrutiny, the pressure of which begins to stress their friendship and threaten their future.

Hertzberg Mayo turns all this unusual material into a thrilling and often quite moving narrative about youth and second chances in an age with fewer social safety nets to catch boys like Charles and Aidan.

The novel brings an alien world vividly to life.