Martha Calhoun is a shy, awkward 16-year-old who spends her life trying not to be noticed, but in a town as small as...

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MARTHA CALHOUN

Martha Calhoun is a shy, awkward 16-year-old who spends her life trying not to be noticed, but in a town as small as Katydid, Illinois, in 1956, no one can stay invisible long. Especially not Martha. Her mother, Bunny, is blonde and beautiful, deserted by her husband before Martha's birth, and notorious for dating many men. Her older brother is in reform school. Martha's own problems start when a country-club lady, Mrs. Benedict, takes an interest in her. After a questionable incident with one of the Benedict children, Martha finds herself caught up in the system of juvenile justice and placed--at least temporarily--in a foster home, where she takes the place of a drowned classmate, inheriting the girl's ugly bedroom, her religious mother, and the unwanted attentions of the somewhat menacing Elro Judy. Suddenly, a lot of outsiders are deciding whether Martha, for her own good, should be separated from the mother she loves. Though Babcock tries to illuminate the unconventional and loving relationship between Martha and Bunny, he succeeds best in evoking small-town life 30 years ago where people are narrow-minded, intolerant, and yet innocent: the worst sin some folks can imagine is listening to Elvis Presley; and police, judges, social workers and ministers all gear up in positive and negative ways to ""save"" a teen-ager whose misdeeds and family life would not win a second glance from the child-welfare system of today. This never delivers on the humor and quirky energy promised by the opening chapter, but with his quiet observations and controlled prose, Babcock makes a favorable debut.

Pub Date: March 7, 1988

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1988