BETHIE by Ann Rabinowitz

BETHIE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Fifteen-year-old Beth tries to help old friend Grace adjust to her parents' divorce; participates in a high-school dramatization of Murder in the Cathedral; sees her brother and boyfriend off to fight in WW II; and faces a host of other difficulties. Since Beth's own parents are also divorced, she's expected to be supportive of Grace. But Beth has trouble being sympathetic: Grace, she feels, is more beautiful and talented than she is (Grace gets a better part in the play) and also seems to be developing a love relationship with Beth's brother, Dave. At the same time, there are tensions in Beth's family: her father is deeply involved in efforts to rescue European Jews and expects the family to understand his preoccupation: her stepmother wants to teach ballet instead of staying home, as Beth's father would prefer: Beth's mother's mental health continues to be precarious; and Dave is declared missing in action. Then--the same evening that Dave is found in a POW camp--Grace commits suicide. The depressing series of tribulations--as trivial as Beth's tendency to be overweight, as global as Nazi persecution--does little to raise reader's hopes for humankind, even given Beth's ability to stay afloat in her sea of troubles. Rabinowitz rushes us through so much that we have no time to reflect. Most convincing are the events leading to Grace's suicide and Beth's subsequent guilt and anger; otherwise, less might have been more.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1989
Page count: 208pp
Publisher: Macmillan