TO HELL WITH DYING
In a short story produced as a picture book, a well-known novelist (The Color Purple) depicts the loving relationship between Mr. Sweet, "a diabetic and an alcoholic and a guitar player," and the girl who narrates the story. From the girl's earliest childhood on, Mr. Sweet, depressed about his failed ambitions, is periodically on the verge of death--but the girl's family always comes up the road to the house on his neglected cotton farm and, with love and cheerful cajolery, talk him out of it. Between these crises, there are joyful, companionable times. Finally, on Mr. Sweet's 90th birthday, as the girl is completing her doctorate, she gets word that Mr. Sweet is dying for the last time--and hurries home from Massachusetts in time for a poignant farewell. Touched with the right sort of sentiment, Walker's story is overflowing with compassion, humor, and good sense. Deeter's framed illustrations, full-page and full-color, are realistic, almost monumental in their simplicity; they sensitively reinforce the wonderful relationship described in the text. A Fine story of deep feeling.