Elena by Duncan Lloyd is a dark book about young Edward ‘Teddy’ Schoendienst who lives with his sister Ellen, and his father Dr. Edward Schoendienst in a small town where his father is the psychiatrist in charge of the local nut-house. His grandfather used to be the local minister, but is gone now. His mother is dead. Teddy is not a popular kid at school, and so spends most of his time with his three best friends: an imaginary Sherlock Holmes, Sam Spade (an imaginary bum), and Mrs. Goethe (the local librarian).
One evening as he leaves the library, a group of bullies manage to surround him, total his bike and beat Teddy horrendously. His father is outraged of course. Dr. Schoendienst is a man who strongly believes in the strength of the individual working for himself. If the school and local police are unable to provide a safe environment for his son, he decides; why, young Edward is disciplined enough, he should home school on his own!
Of course now, Teddy isn’t left merely to indulge in his whims. He is given a strict curriculum of what he must accomplish while his dad is at work and his sister is at school. It’s just that one of the things that the other kids picked on him for is being smart. One of their favorite insults was to call him a “brain”. Now if a kid who thinks himself intelligent is left with too much free time to sit alone with his imaginary friends, trouble can start.
When free time for Teddy starts involving sexual fantasies about his sister Ellen I was more than a little grossed out, but I could continue reading because of his awareness of its wrongness himself. When trying to get beyond these incestual thoughts, the idea of a new woman comes upon him like a ghost. Her name is Elena. Unfortunately, this new imaginary friend asserts her presence until Teddy begins to doubt that he created her himself. Somehow even Ellen knows of Elena…