THE BRIDGES OF SUMMER by Brenda Seabrooke


Age Range: 10 - 15
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 A sophisticated young New Yorker returns unwillingly to her roots when her mother sends her for a summer with her grandmother Quanimina, who lives the traditional life of the Gullah off the Carolina coast. At home, ``Zarah'' (Sarah Jane)--gifted dancer, aspiring actor, and scholarship student--is about to enter the High School for the Performing Arts; with Quanimina, she's a rebel who ``shames'' her grandmother by wearing gaudy ornaments in her hair and making friends with Benicia, visiting granddaughter of an equally traditional white woman nearby. When Benicia invites Zarah to a party, Quanimina insists that Zarah act as a servant, as Benicia's grandmother has requested; Zarah plays the role to the hilt and then entertains the guests as her true self in a flamboyant dance, transforming her humiliation into triumph. Then, just as she and Quanimina are on the verge of understanding how each has ``shamed'' the other, Quanimina dies. Seabrooke (Judy Scuppernong, 1990) takes on a lot here and handles it with some skill. Spirited and likable, Zarah is a believable product of her complicated past, though some of the clues to it are a little late in coming. The conclusion--in another virtuoso acting performance, Zarah consummates the sale of Quanimina's island after her death (illegal but not immoral, since she's an heir)--is satisfyingly dramatic, though it does stretch credulity. Best of all, past and present mores are contrasted in an absorbing story where both are presented with acumen and sympathy. (Fiction. 10-15)

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1992
ISBN: 0-525-65094-6
Page count: 160pp
Publisher: Dutton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 1992


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