Ten-year-old Lorraine Maybe has been in trouble before--she's an angry child, and we believe in her hostility without ever...

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SOMETHING TO COUNT ON

Ten-year-old Lorraine Maybe has been in trouble before--she's an angry child, and we believe in her hostility without ever quite knowing its cause. Now, her father and mother have split up, and her father is unreliable, impatient, uninterested: in one ghastly restaurant scene younger brother Jason asks unknowingly for lobster, Lorraine asks perversely for sardines, the waiter talks only to Daddy, and Daddy quickly gulps down his double Scotch; Lorraine, meanwhile, is holding her hand in a candle flame (""I will not cry. I will not cry. It doesn't hurt that much""). And in school, day by day, she's rebellious and quarrelsome. But offsetting Daddy's negligence is the attention of new teacher Weston Hamilton, dubbed Wolfman (he's hairy) by Lorraine--who responds to her provocations by drawing her out. He also notices that she likes to draw, and drawing begins to be her way of making a place for herself in the world. Still, Daddy's derelictions are an open wound--so Lorraine and Jason compose a letter to him specifying ""Ways To Make Daddy Love Us"" (#6: ""We'll try not to throw up out the car window""; #7: ""It's okay if you don't come at 12:00 sharp""). And when he doesn't immediately respond, Lorraine starts to realize what her mother finally puts into focus for her: ""That's his way. . . . He thinks his duty stops with providing food and clothing."" She knows that her mother is happier, that Wolfman cares about her, that she can make friends, that she may be a good artist. . . and she reaches out to her longtime nemesis to bring the book to an end. It's set in the South Bronx, and we know from the jacket and from some of the speech patterns that the protagonists are black; but like the story itself, the social situation is realistically understated. There's an integrity here that's above eliciting sympathy: what one feels for Lorraine is both concern and respect.

Pub Date: April 10, 1980

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Unicorn/Dutton

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1980