AMERICAN CHILDREN by Ann Birstein
Kirkus Star

AMERICAN CHILDREN

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Set down with confessional sass and solemnity: a delightful version of the plaints and pensÉes of New York City college young of the Forties. It's the nine-months' chronicle of Lois Ackerman, one of the American children of European-Jewish immigrants, and among her circle at a Queens ""subway college,"" most of whom share her background, are: Rosalie, an empathy-eater, an aspiring chanteuse ""trapped and doomed in the Bronx"" by a volcanic Russian mother with whom she trades suicide threats; Leonora the Weird, who read Proust in the original at 14, and will shatter into insanity; Milton, first to marry and have a child (""obscene events""); Maria Gato, a mean ""mater dolorosa""; Sherwin the gadfly; and gorgeous Gerald Muster, a vocal student with no particular talent and a ""dopey tee-hee hugh."" Lois adores Gerald, and, to her glee, he introduces her to serious sex. But, through the jumble of dates and drear and silly drunks, Lois also has to convince Gerald that he's not a homosexual (a current, apparently contagious preoccupation). And, while Rosalie has an abortion and a disastrous theatrical debut, Lois frets over brother Warren (drifting into idleness and a bad marriage) and her nice father--who's possessed of a bewildering loathing for his own nephew Josef, a curiously ""clean, upright, expectant"" refugee from Hitler. Eventually, by the time that the mysteries are cleared up, Lois will understand that there are debts to be paid--by both immigrant parents and their new American hatchings:""You don't know what it is to wake up in this country and not know how you got here."" Another acute, moving (and, incidentally, very funny), deep-heat Birstein scan of one time, place, and culture.

Pub Date: March 7th, 1980
ISBN: 0595089127
Publisher: Doubleday