Books, Journals, New Media
November 5, 1997


Author Affiliations

Harvard Medical School Boston, Mass

JAMA. 1997;278(17):1459. doi:10.1001/jama.1997.03550170093045

Elizabeth Shepard's H can be read and appreciated on many levels. An epistolary novel, it chronicles the mental condition and progress of a 12-year-old boy. The letters that comprise the novel are written by the principal characters, primarily parents, summer camp personnel, peers, the boy's sister, and his psychiatrist. A fascinating correspondence between the child and his imaginary friend (the friend manifest in a stuffed toy shaped like an H) reveals much about the boy's inner life.

The author makes compelling use of the epistolary form. That it is somewhat disjointed actually serves to pique the reader's curiosity. I found myself reading faster and more intently as the novel progressed.

H would be a very enjoyable read for anyone who likes psychologically based novels and for those with professional training and experience working with disturbed children. I continually found myself formulating a differential diagnosis and then reformulating it with each

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