BRIGHAM YOUNG AND ME, CLARISSA by Barbara Williams

BRIGHAM YOUNG AND ME, CLARISSA

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KIRKUS REVIEW

This small domestic incident, involving a little girl's dishonest acquisition of a ribbon and her father's forgiveness, is narrated by Brigham Young's young daughter Clarissa in the ingenuous manner F. N. Monjo has established for the offspring of our founding fathers. But Williams lacks Monjo's humor; her telling is a shade too cute (""Would you like to know the names of Mother's [seven] children? I'll tell you who they are,"" says Clarissa, whose father has 55 children ""but he loves me as if I were the only one""); and where Monjo succeeds in humanizing established heroes, Williams is dealing with a figure who, if known to children at all outside of Mormon country, is more like a curiosity. Thus the historical bits Clarissa works in--""Here are two of the lies that awful Mr. Clemens tell about Father""--will be less interesting, for example, than Ellen Aroon's complaints about what the Feds call Grand Papa Jefferson or Tad Lincoln's plaintive ""How could anyone want to hurt my Pa?"" And it doesn't work to have eight-year-old Clarissa tell the ""funny story"" about Tom Thumb and Father: ""General Thumb said, 'I can't figure out why you believe in polygamy.' Father looked down at him and smiled. 'That's all right,' said Father. 'I couldn't figure it out either when I was your size.'"" Perhaps that's why the projection of the 60-some Youngs as one big loving family just doesn't come across despite Father's breakfast-table stories and all the housekeeping particulars--not that readers necessarily believe otherwise, but just that the whole project has a synthetic, simulated air.

Pub Date: Sept. 8th, 1978
Publisher: Doubleday