WHAT JAMIE SAW by Carolyn Coman
Kirkus Star


Age Range: 8 - 10
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An extremely intimate narrative about Jamie, nine, that opens in the middle of a traumatic scene-his mother's lover throws Jamie's baby half-sister across the room, and his mother catches her and then closely follows the state of the boy's soul as he, his mother, and the baby move out of the house and into a trailer on top of a mountain. Written in the third-person, entirely from Jamie's point of view, the book tries to describe what Jamie feels, but what he himself might not yet be able to articulate. To this end, the narrative organizes his experience obliquely, whether by employing a poetic and repetitive prose style in order to convey the uneven manner in which emotions or episodes unfold or by stepping back from the protagonist by posing a question"Just who did Jamie think was going to open that door?" only to return to him immediately for the answer. In effect, Coman (Tell Me Everything, 1993, etc.) speaks for her hero with the intuitive understanding and empathy of a mother. The subjective impressions that she records are unmistakably those of a young boy, and Jaime's subjectivity becomes increasingly convincing; the cumulative effect is mesmerizing. Reading this short novella, readers will find themselves quickly slipping into a mode of thought analogous to the protagonist's. It's a profound characterization and a remarkable achievement in a book about ordinary people trying to put their lives in order. (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 15th, 1995
ISBN: 1-886910-02-2
Page count: 126pp
Publisher: Front Street/Boyds Mills
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1995


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