Frederick Langlois could be that geeky 17-year-old found in every high school the one who closely clutches his poem-filled notebook, who feels a bit too deeply, whos just a little too old for his years. But Frederick isnt in high school. Hes in a hospital ward with other critically ill adolescents, dying of bone cancer. Mercury Under the Tongue chronicles his short stay there, from his distant but friendly relationship with his therapist through comic moments in the ward and his emergent friendships with other teenage patients. Some survive, others are lost, and at the end, Frederick must make a final reckoning with himself and his family, one that is at once dispassionate and deeply felt. Avoiding both misty stoicism and made-for-TV bathos, the book exposes the fallible body as the humanizing factor that grounds spirited adolescent talk, creating a believable, likable protagonist while weaving a compelling, lyrical story.