by Sheila Greenwald ‧ RELEASE DATE: April 30, 1982
If it's almost obligatory in YA novels for the heroine to learn or face some hard truths about herself, Blissful Joy Bowman fills this requirement in spades. Bliss sees herself as more mature and responsible than her divorced actor parents; but when a dog follows her home from the subway she proves more romantic, in taking him in, and more irresponsible, in not reporting the find and in avoiding the house the dog wants to head for, than she would like to admit. Bliss also sees her high academic achievement at a top girls' school and her ambition to attend her mother's college, Vassar, and then become a Ph.D. psychotherapist, as feet-on-the-ground behavior; but as this unfolds it's suggested that her choice of a ""prestigious"" school is merely snobbish and her perpetual psychological interpretations are evasions of a sort. Even Bliss' first date seems to thrill her more because of the young man's eminent suitability than from any personal attraction. And when it turns out that the date is just a front for his relationship with his stepsister, a girl in Bliss' class, she is more humiliated than truly hurt. The agents of these painful truths are Bliss' best friend Jenny, whose straight talk occasions some breaks in their relationship, and Colin, a 20-year-old actor friend of her mother's who is really attracted to Bliss and finally gets through to her. As for the SAT motif, good student Bliss has done poorly on the PSATs and, as D-Day approaches, she becomes more and more vociferous about what a meaningless ripoff the tests are. (This is driven in so bluntly and insistently as to seem a personal grudge on Greenwald's part.) Bliss feels better once she finally admits her low PSAT to some classmates; nevertheless, she takes a cram course, raises her practice score 250 points per test, and breezes confidently through the SATs. It's just the ending parents and teachers would wish for, but hardly a logical and conscientious response to Greenwald's assessment of SATs. So there are really no painful realities with painful consequences after all, just the usual light Greenwald treatment (a little too light for the SAT age) of more than the usual number of threads. As such, the book is enlivened by bright dialogue (some of it by Noel Coward, as appropriated by the actors in the story), interesting minor characters (a plain, middle-aged veterinarian who lands Bliss' charming father stands out), and a neat if burdened plot that smoothly ties together Bliss' dog, date, and other loose ends.
Pub Date: April 30, 1982
Page Count: -
Publisher: Little, Brown
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1982
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