DAYBREAK by Belva Plain


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 Plain, still playing her Evergreen (1978) game, and with a vast readership, again turns to the headlines. In Whispers (1993) it was wife-battering; here it's a case of hospital baby-swapping, complicated by religious bigotry. Margaret and Arthur Crawfield, still mourning the death of their 19-year-old son Peter from cystic fibrosis, are stunned when they are told that blood tests reveal that Peter could not possibly have been their son. There is no doubt that two boy babies had been switched in the small maternity hospital. The ``other'' parents are contacted: Sensitive, gentle Laura and macho-man Bud are the parents of 11-year-old Timmy, who also has cystic fibrosis, and Tom, the Crawfield's biological son, who is Bud's pride and joy (he calls him a ``man's boy'') and heir to their building supply business. Tom is handsome, bright, wonderfully kind to Timmy--and a flaming bigot, like Bud. Father and son are both supporters of a Klan-shadowed candidate in a local election. Tom's girlfriend at college is the editor of a white-supremacist and anti-Semitic hate sheet. Guess who's Jewish! Needless to say, a meeting between the Crawfields and Tom and Laura (Bud storms off) is fraught. Nice Laura, who hates the hating, welcomes a black family to the neighborhood and, predictably, their house is trashed. Laura will establish ties with the Crawfields and their warm-hearted daughter. Tom will eventually come around--but only after violence, death, and rejection. As always, Plain writes with a billboard clarity. In the tradition of popular hortatory tales, the victims are intensely good and the moral--worthy though it certainly is--is spelled out in easy-flow Plain talk. A reliable circulator. (Literary Guild dual selection for Spring)

Pub Date: May 1st, 1994
ISBN: 0-385-31104-4
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Delacorte
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1994


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