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(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

Maniac Magee is a moderately complex novel, in form and in content. In form, it offers both social realism and an adventure tale about the life and times of a contemporary legend. In content, it tells an engaging, fast-paced story with a number of subthemes or subjects, including homelessness, the importance of family, the influence of adolescent peer groups, and ever-present racial tensions.

First and foremost, however, Maniac Magee is a novel about an adolescent boy in search of his true place in the world, a place that proves quite difficult to find. Jeffrey’s search is made more difficult not only because he is orphaned at an early age but also because he is an innocent soul who does not know hatred or prejudice. Jeffrey simply does not see “this color business,” and part of his growth as a character is learning what prejudice is, its consequences, and how hard...

(The entire section is 295 words.)