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 It is a sign of this novel's scantiness that it fails to explain satisfactorily the answer to the question posed in its own title. That question is one of the vaguely sexual comments that rude male students make to narrator Louisa Fisher when she walks down the halls of the prep school where she is a day student in the 1950s. Louisa, however, proclaims herself in love with polite Dwight Brown and thrills to run into him nailing up a sign for a football rally. Tracy (Winter Hunger, not reviewed) does a fine job recreating a high-school girl's voice--maybe too fine, because the narration lacks mature irony and relies heavily on sarcasm instead, describing the kisses of Louisa's earlier paramour as ``the Sucky Tongue That Slimed Chicago.'' At Christmas she analyzes the signature on a card from Dwight, wondering why he hasn't signed it with ``love.'' The rest of the tale is equally banal. Louisa is secretly writing a novel; the excerpts from it, though they expertly echo overblown adolescent literary ventures, also wear thin. Her family is picture-perfect, but she whines, that ``my parents hemmed me in with their very love, their interest'' and longs to live in Greenwich Village even while her best friends pad their hope chests and bone up on Home Economics. All of this is completely believable but not compelling. Louisa's crush on Dwight is just that, a crush, culminating in one very innocent kiss before tragedy strikes, so it is hard to swallow Louisa's proclamations about her time with him infusing her adult life. It also comes as a shock in the final pages to learn that an adult Louisa is looking back at her high school days, because her voice throughout is so perfectly juvenile. With its brevity and insular feel, this novel would have been better served if targeted to the YA market.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1995
ISBN: 1-877946-52-4
Page count: 126pp
Publisher: Permanent Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 1994