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Norwegian winter, early 20th century. On the boys home Bastoy, a new inmate leads the boys to a violent uprising against a brutal regime. How far is he willing to go to attain freedom?

It's the winter of 1915 at Bastøy, a boys reformatory on an island of the same name located off the Norwegian coast. The "Governor" as the warden is called, rules the institution by stripping the boys of any personal identity, and issuing physically and emotionally abusive punishments, all in order for conformity. While he uses much of the moneys provided to make his and his wife Astrid's life there more comfortable, his housefathers - the men overseeing each of the dormitories - handle most of the issuance of punishments. Erling and Ivar, two boys newly arrived, could not be more different than each other. While Ivar is somewhat naive and emotionally weak, Erling, who is there because he purportedly killed someone, is rebellious and strong willed. They are both housed in dormitory C, where Bråthen is the housefather and Olav the head boy. There has never been a successful escape in the nine years Bråthen has been housefather, he who has stayed in the position while many have come to and gone from Bastøy to promoted positions. Olav, who has been there for six years since he was eleven, will be released in three weeks, largely because he has obediently but quietly done everything asked of him by the Governor. Erling and Olav form an unlikely and somewhat uneasy friendship. Actions by Bråthen, which Olav has passively watched without doing anything, and Erling's example lead to Olav perhaps believing that although he will be soon be released, that following the rules may not have been worth it for the good of his immortal soul.


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