Oneal's portrait of a 13-year-old girl going crazy (or afraid she is) is unsensationalized and very much in touch with...

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THE LANGUAGE OF GOLDFISH

Oneal's portrait of a 13-year-old girl going crazy (or afraid she is) is unsensationalized and very much in touch with middle-class, midwestern reality. A Beardsley drawing, a teacher's reference to sex, her mother's insistence that she attend the eighth-grade dances--each of these is enough to start the roaring, the tumbling colors, the sideways slip inside Carrie's head. Her mother won't hear of anything amiss, even after Carrie in desperation gobbles handfuls of sleeping pills and ends up in the hospital. Then Carrie does start seeing a psychiatrist and gradually recovers, though she continues to long for the childhood fantasy she shared with older sister Moira, and to resist boy-conscious Moira's urgings that Carrie too put the old goldfish game behind her. The story's ending is anticlimactic--Carrie ""suddenly realizes"" what people have been teling her all along, that she finds it hard to grow up and doesn't want things to change. This not only disappoints readers' expectations for the detective-story aspects of a psychiatric novel, but it also leaves one in doubt as to the depth of Carrie's realization. Nevertheless there is texture to the projection of Carrie's home and school life, and the helplessness that stems from her parents' refusal to take her fears seriously makes her situation especially chilling and sympathy-provoking.

Pub Date: April 1, 1980

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1980