THE BOOK OF THE BANSHEE by Anne Fine
Kirkus Star

THE BOOK OF THE BANSHEE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Fine has a unique gift for presenting serious topics in stories leavened with circumstances and dialogue made hilarious not so much because they're exaggerated as because they're all too believable. Having dealt with a war between divorced parents (Alias Madame Doubtfire, 1988) and an attack by a reluctant stepchild on her new dad (My War with Goggle-Eyes, 1989, Carnegie Medal), she now presents a painfully familiar, laugh-aloud funny conflict between a teenager and her whole family. Prompted by an author on a school visit (in the book's most delightfully satirical scene), nice, gangly Will Flowers describes his family's agony in the wake of his one-year-younger sister Estelle's abrupt metamorphosis from gentle, reliable 13-year-old to perpetually belligerent banshee. Doggedly, Mum (who's a lawyer) and Dad (who runs a gas station) try to keep their cool and spell each other with the rough spots, but they're so focused on their new problem child that they hardly notice that little Muffy is so shell-shocked that she has virtually stopped speaking, while ever-hungry Wilt can never find a crisis-free time for someone to give him lunch money. Meanwhile, Will rereads a favorite book on life in the trenches in WW I, garnering enlightening parallels; and Fine deftly lets slip the news that he's not so easy to live with, either, and needs to assert himself more--like the precocious Estelle. Sure enough, when Will finally speaks out, the entire family dynamic is nudged toward sanity; even Estelle regains some humanity. A winner: wise, witty, and right on target.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1992
Page count: 176pp
Publisher: "Joy Street/Little, Brown"