OREN BELL by Barbara Hood Burgess


Age Range: 10 - 14
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 An offbeat story introduces Oren, 12, the only boy in an African-American family consisting of his mother, his overbearing, overachieving twin Latonya, and younger sister Brenda, who is both brilliant and mildly psychic. They live in a neglected neighborhood under a Detroit freeway. Oren's chief duty as the new school year begins is to take away the curse on the abandoned house next door; after he cheats during the ceremony, he's sure the year's bad luck is his fault: their school closes; their grandfather is hospitalized; Oren's friend is murdered in the house; his mother loses her job and meets a man who seems determined to take Oren's place as man of the family. But by the close, Oren realizes that not all of the luck was necessarily bad--nor was it caused by a simple ceremony. Burgess's voice is original and witty. Her narrative may be episodic, even slow, but it is also consistently full of sharply realized details and interesting characterizations. A promising debut. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: May 1st, 1991
ISBN: 0-385-30325-4
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: Delacorte
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1991