Divorce averted, a divided family tentatively united--in a novel that airs the problem from many angles, though it doesn't...

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WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH THE DOBSONS?

Divorce averted, a divided family tentatively united--in a novel that airs the problem from many angles, though it doesn't give its characters hardly any independent life. It's also one of the increasing number of juveniles that tries to tell its story from the point of view of more than one sibling--which has the effect of lessening identification but broadening sympathy (and, at least on the surface, maximizing the book's potential age-spread). Here, we're privy first to prickly 13-year-old Amanda Dobson's resentment of her father's relentless criticism and jealousy of cute, wheedling eleven-year-old Lisa; then we come to see that Lisa is jealous of Amanda's closeness to their mother, and that she plays up to people because she's too weak to stand up for herself. Meanwhile Mr. and Mrs. D., constantly at loggerheads over the girls' behavior, decide on a trial separation; and Lisa elects to join her father at his hotel. But the alignments begin, little by little, to give way--most dramatically when Amanda's outright defiance of an unjust punishment wins Lisa's grudging admiration, most authentically when Amanda's father tries, for once, to patch up one of their chronic set-tos. Before long, Lisa has had enough of hotel life; Amanda has come to believe that her father is demanding because he expects a lot of her; Mr. and Mrs. D. have held hands, etc., at his mother's wedding; and we've heard a number of times that everybody has faults, must make concessions, should expect blowups. As a fictional case-study, this has its points--but that's all it has.

Pub Date: Aug. 29, 1980

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1980