I recall bits from one of my dad's books that I read in the late 1980s.

It was about a boy who lost his thumb (or finger) when a door was shut on it. He joined a circus or carnival where he looked like a woman that was in an act in the carnival. The man that ran the circus/carnival asked to look at the boy's thumb and it had grown back.

I recall the man talking about a pair of trees: when he carved something in one of the trees, the other tree would have the same carving.

In the end, I recall the boy could control how he looked, like shape-shifting.

I’ve been searching for this book forever but cannot seem to find it. I asked my dad and he thought it might be a JRR Tolkien book, but I don’t think so.

1 Answer 1


The Dreaming Jewels (aka The Synthetic Man, 1950) by Theodore Sturgeon, his first novel. 8 year old Horty Bluett loses some fingers when his adoptive father slams a door on his hand. He runs away to join a circus. He masquerades as a female dwarf. Vaguely remember the bit about the trees. Jewel-like aliens can create flawed or perfect copies of living beings or objects.

cover of The Dreaming Jewels

  • I am flabbergasted! Amazing that someone was able to identify this book. I’m excited to read again after all these years. Thank you!
    – jaylweb
    Jan 3, 2019 at 12:50

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.