A NEW HOME FOR THERESA by Betty Baum

A NEW HOME FOR THERESA

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Isn't it bad enough to be an orphan? Do I have to be black, too?"" Theresa's plaint recalls the little girl in Patricia Crosses Town (1965) but her credibility is lessened by the passage of three crucial years, and the book generally is weakened by overt and rather naive identification of characters with viewpoints and the projection thereof. Even allowing for Theresa's ingenuousness--that the Negro boss of the white social worker must be ""passing"" as white; that her Negro foster-mother must be the maid in the well-furnished apartment; that her foster-father must be the janitor in the modern, largely white-tenanted housing project--this still lacks convincing motivation: that Theresa would agree to stop running away from her fears, to ""try to like"" her foster parents, in exchange for the overweight social worker's trying to diet is equating a cloud with a speck of dust. Further, the white girl who befriends Theresa in the new school and becomes her best friend is also a foster-child--placed by the same social worker. The racial conflict among the kids, reflecting tensions in the project and dividing integrationist Dad Chinton from his black nationalist wife, is an attempt to deal with realities that peters out in Mrs. Chinton's sheepish capitulation--because a white woman has risked danger for black children and so proven her sincerity. Simplistic as a forum, spotty as fiction, and the drawings don't match the text (when Theresa's suffering mother complains of the cold coming in through a crack in the window, it's shown wide open, and Theresa herself is white-featured and light-skinned despite her oft-stated African appearance).

Pub Date: Oct. 11th, 1968
Publisher: Knopf