Books by Catherine Johnson

FACE VALUE by Catherine Johnson
FAMILY AND GROWING UP
Released: May 1, 2006

A brooding, unsuccessful attempt to confront the dark world of professional modeling. Lauren, 15, is noticed at an art gallery and handed a business card that leads to modeling opportunities. Her guardian, 32-year-old Nessa, cringes at the idea because Lauren's late mother Paula got in trouble doing the same thing. Chapters of "Lauren Now" alternate with chapters of "Nessa Then," as teenage Nessa—lonely and glum—makes friends with glamorous Paula, a teen with model potential stuck prostituting for a gangster. The duel narrative is well organized. However, the piece overall seems unsure of its genre, changing awkwardly from passable realism into mediocre suspense as Nessa's mother is murdered (in the past) and the gangster catches up with Lauren and Nessa (in the present). One wholly unconvincing passage features eight-month-old Lauren as narrator. More about one dangerous gangster than the world of modeling; useful for its interracial characters, who are sadly underrepresented in young adult literature. (Fiction. YA)Read full book review >
NON-FICTION
Released: March 1, 1992

Johnson, a contributing editor to New Woman, examines a question that many often answer with skepticism if not outright cynicism: Can a marriage be truly happy and remain so for a lifetime? Johnson claims to have been skeptical herself at first, though as a wife and new mother she wanted to be convinced. The 60 happy couples she found (out of 100 respondents) persuaded her that the dream was attainable. Here, she presents general characteristics common to most of these ``vital couples'' (``Happy couples establish and follow productive daily routines''; ``It is essential not to take any major action that you will have to keep secret from your mate''), which she then illustrates with examples from her interviews. These brief observations form a helpful checklist that readers can use to monitor the vital signs of their own relationships or to define goals for improvement. There are few real surprises in Johnson's findings; perhaps the most unexpected is the extent to which children, even wanted and loved children, can strain a marriage. Other revelations may, in the author's opinion, cause chagrin among feminists: that thriving romances seem to be built on a sense of the man's being ``superior,'' strong, and dominating—but only in the realms of sexuality and fantasy—and that, in a good marriage, distinctions between spouses blur as, in important ways, husband and wife meld into one entity. Fighting, sex and fidelity, work and finances, and coping with tragedy are other subjects on which Johnson sounded out her respondents. Anecdotal rather than scientific, and based on a limited sample of mostly white, middle-class, conventional people. Nonetheless, many should find this heartening. Read full book review >