LOOKING ON by Betty Miles


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Fourteen, fat, and frizzy-haired (still a minus in blue-collar, behind-the-times Vandam, New York), Rosalie Hudnecker is as lunkish as her name and so passive that she almost seems semi-catatonic. When just-married Tony and Jill Judson move into a trailer behind her house, Rosalie quickly abdicates what little social life and outside interests she has to spy on and fantasize about her ""dream"" couple until finally she's made to see (via a few lovers' spats and heart-to-hearts with Jill) that the romantic idyll she's so carefully tended has, in fact, its own share of weeds. Ergo Rosalie gives up her mini-obsession and resumes her own life, shedding a few pounds, getting her first kiss, landing a responsible summer job, and even braving a new hairdo at Loretta's House of Beauty. As a wistful mood piece, this is fairly effective: Miles casts a cool but compassionate eye on all the indignities and out-of-sorts feelings of adolescence and she pins down the dreary, limited-options world of Rosie and her hairdresser mom with precision. Yet in almost 200 pages, there's only the faintest whiff of a plot and too often there's the sense that, like Rosie, we are just looking on. . . and on and on waiting for something to happen.

Pub Date: April 3rd, 1978
Publisher: Knopf