SEVENTEEN AND IN-BETWEEN by Barthe DeClements

SEVENTEEN AND IN-BETWEEN

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Episode three in the psychodrama of Elsie Edwards: the once-compulsive eater (Nothing's Fair in Fifth Grade) who had not only to shed pounds but to gain self-esteem (How Do You Lose Those Ninth Grade Blues?)--as is heavily recapitulated in the course of her further self-therapy. Elsie's personal dilemmas are two-fold, and not much to get worked up about: should she succumb to handsome college-footballer Craddoc's new pressure for sex (now that she's 17)--or is absent ""friend"" Jack, of the soul-searching letters (and Indian-shaman buddy), the one she really wants to make love with? (Guess.) And what about highschool footballer Rick's obvious intention to break into the school computer, on which Elsie works, and change his grades? (She doesn't tell; but she doesn't try to forestall the attempt either--and Rick gets caught.) By contrast, the shifting family relations do hit home. Elsie's generally crummy mother, who once took out her own, abandoned-wife miseries on Elsie, has a new, serious boyfriend, Sam; in Elsie's jaundiced eyes, she's trying to impress him with the image of a ""happy little family."" Sister Robyn is undergoing her own, young-teen trials: ""You aren't the only one who's had bad things happen."" Their philandering father, remarried with a two-year-old child, starts to stray again--and Elsie sees his wife also take it out on the child. Her best friend Jenny's parents reach a career impasse--a San Francisco promotion for him vs. her promising Seattle job--and split up. Even her mother, Elsie thinks, wouldn't have given up a son like that. So when Mother and Sam marry, after some plain mother-daughter talk (and signs of accommodation from Sam), there's hope that a new family will shape up--sustenance apart from Elsie's looming, I-decide love affair with Jack. Nothing delicate or subtle here--but some stark reflections of these transitional times.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1984
Publisher: Viking