Kirkus Star


Email this review


The shrug of experience in the title will key you to the fact that this is not strictly kid stuff-- actually it may not be for certain types of adults who disapprove of obstreperously independent youngsters (say like Harriet the Spy) who scuff up seemingly irreversible canons of conduct. Jessica's different too (she's just as noticing as Harriet, but she's got more heart) and this is her record, written down later, at 17, of the summer when she was 12. It's sharp, funny, (well, all right, slangy) and full of contrasts; there's also some very good writing which nobody will be able to fault about the sea and the town (somewhere on the New England coast), about a hurricane, a Fourth of July parade, about horseshoe crabs and mice, and about one Joe St. George, her personal dragon-slayer. He's a paraplegic with a dreadfully scarred face (Korea) in a wheelchair who, ""like the unburied dead came back to haunt the wrong house."" The town is uneasy with him and only Jessica and her brother Brock have any contact. The story moves along gently through the dolce far niente of the summer, local events, local characters irreverently observed (for instance the minister with his professional pall of sanctity) until the end, which is a real jolt; the youngsters witness Joe's commission of murder (a justifiable homicide if ever there was one, although the book itself would have been better without it) and keep quiet about it. Joe is already a doomed man. And the last scene in which Joe says good-bye to Jessica (""Wish me... a short and easy trip. The trip I'm taking is never a good one."") will make most youngsters, along with Jessica, think more about harder questions. It won't hurt them... It's a strong book.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1965
Publisher: Chilton