Review: Heller McAlpin’s ‘Whipping Boy’

January 23, 2015 1:49 PM

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Review: Heller McAlpin’s ‘Whipping Boy’

What becomes of bullies when they grow up? Do they evolve into decent, kind human beings, or does their capacity for malice grow along with their bodies? Allen Kurzweil explores this issue — and much more — in Whipping Boy, a compulsive account of his search for the childhood tormentor who made his life miserable during the year he spent at an English-style boarding school in Switzerland while his widowed mother “was test-driving her third husband.”

“There has never been anything neutral about my Switzerland,” Kurzweil writes in this odyssey of retribution and release. As a child, he had happy associations with the alpine country, where he had spent idyllic early Christmases with his Austrian-born father, who died of cancer when Allen was 5. Hi...

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