Themes and Characters

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Fox develops strong themes in A Place Apart. Victoria Finch, nicknamed Tory, feeling deserted and lacking direction, looks for someone to explain the perplexities of life to her. She feels deserted, first by her father when he dies suddenly, then by her mother when she starts dating Lawrence Grady, whom Tory detests, and then by Hugh, when she discovers he is only using her to make himself important.

The novel's theme has its beginnings in a discussion with Uncle Philip about a dream. When Tory tells him about the dream Uncle Philip says, "Your dream means that what you must do is find your own country." Tory does search for her own identity and learns she must be herself apart from the molds others would press her into. This is a theme common to young people as they strive to know themselves and fit in with the crowd, too.

The primary theme in A Place Apart is Tory's feeling that she does not belong anywhere. She does not belong in their home in Boston without her father or in the new home and school in New Oxford. She does not belong in the lives of those she thinks are closest to her: Mom, Elizabeth, and Hugh. They all seem to have lives that exclude her.

Victoria starts searching for that symbolic country Uncle Philip suggested she needed to find. She is an uncertain, vulnerable high school freshman, who is flattered by the attention of Hugh Todd, a high school junior. She rides an emotional roller coaster as she...

(The entire section is 509 words.)