by Isabelle Holland ‧ RELEASE DATE: May 25, 1982
As Holland warns in a 26-word foreword, ""This is not a novel. It is not a story with a plot. This is a book of conversations. . . ."" And as Abigail Tyrell, almost twelve, explains in the first paragraph, it's the sort-of journal her father told her to write when she began asking questions about God. But it reads like a narrative, setting down her conversations about God with her parents and others as they emerge from particular episodes and concerns: her cat is sick and might die--but doesn't; she fights with her best friend and makes up; she enters a newspaper story contest, wants desperately to win, but doesn't. God, and Abby's relationship to God, enter all these experiences, as her parents, who have a firm faith but want her to arrive at their views on her own, dispense wise and gentle guidance as it's solicited. About the cat and, later, the contest, Daddy says Abby should pray but put the matter in God's hands and accept the outcome either way. About the fight, Mother counsels: ""Every time you think about hating her, why don't you say a prayer for her?"" About why you kneel to pray, Mother says that God probably doesn't care but if you slouch while praying it makes you feel sloppy. There are several other examples of how Abby's parents relate God and religion to Abby's everyday life, almost all of them impressive. (An exception, Mother's belief that you go on learning and still have many chances to make moral choices after death, seems both unorthodox and too soft--enough to reinforce an opposing view of religion as a lollipop.) Less impressive is Abby's teacher's glib response, when Abby frets about classmate Tony Bellows' assertion that creation is ""all an accident"": ""Well, if it's an accident it's an accident with some pretty original laws."" Anyway, Abby's view of God does mature during the course of the book. At the end she no longer thinks of God as a statue, like Lincoln in the Lincoln Memorial--a view she's held since age six and alludes to frequently throughout--and she no longer fears falling off the statue's lap into ""the black hole."" Each reader, of course, will have to find his or her own path to a mature view just as Abby does. But her example (and her parents') could help light that path for kids whose families share Abby's family's faith but lack their enlightened upbringing skills--and probably for a few who miss the Tyrells' anchor in their own families.
Pub Date: May 25, 1982
Page Count: -
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1982
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