THE GLORY GIRL by Betsy Byars
Kirkus Star


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As the only Glory who can't sing--instead, she sells the Glory Gospel Singers' tapes and records after performances by the rest of the family--Anna has some reason to feel like a Cinderella. Lovely Angel with her golden hair is lead singer and clearly the family favorite; and younger twins Matthew and Joshua, hellions who compete for emergency-room stitches when not singing and playing the drums, get more than their share of attention. "You've had your last stitch, Joshua, you hear me?" says the father after Joshua is almost scalped in a daredevil bike accident. The mother is notable chiefly for her six-inch beehive hairdo, and the father, a cozy down-home Christian on the stage, is not to be tangled with. "When anybody saw Mr. Glory in a rage, they never doubted that people had evolved from animals." Such a rage is induced by the news that Mr. Glory's brother Newt is at large and in need of a home after serving seven years for bank robbery. (He had taken along a bowlegged partner who was easily recognizable despite the stocking masks.) Though she has never met him, and though she learns that, unlike herself, he can sing, Anna "had started to feel a kinship with Uncle Newt that surprised her. She couldn't explain it. She didn't feel that way about the members of her own family." Oddly, when the family goes to meet Newt's bus, he isn't on it; but later Angel and Anna spot him here and there, as if he's following the family. One night, unknown to their father, Uncle Newt is in the pizza restaurant where Mr. Glory puts down two "punks" (his words) who try to pick up Angel. The two boys, insulted, follow the Glory bus and bump it off the road, touching off a scene of cool, slow-motion terror that is described with even more stark clarity than was Joshua's earlier bike accident. Not surprisingly, Uncle Newt is there to carry out a heroic rescue of the whole unconscious or incapacitated flock. The shy Newt won't stay around to be thanked and welcomed into the family, but Anna is left with memories of a few brief encounters; his words, "You're the best of the bunch," echo in her mind. Again Byars gives us a gratifying and entertaining picture of a solid, solitary kid coming into her own through the odd interactions of an unglamorous, snappily projected family.
Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1983
ISBN: 0844670235
Publisher: Viking
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1983


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