GROWING UP IN THE GREAT DEPRESSION by Charles Van Doren

GROWING UP IN THE GREAT DEPRESSION

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KIRKUS REVIEW

As a story, the book fails to make the Potter family real people-- they are talking stereotypes of the middle class family subsiding (rather than crashing) through the Depression years. The robbery of the teen aged son and daughter on route back to New York from Iowa, where they had been sent to rusticate through the food and money short years, sets them unintentionally ""on the bum"" which they intentionally prolong thinking their absence will make family expenses lighter. It is impossible somehow ever to believe that anything really bad can happen to these two, although their trip is fraught with too easily conquered possibilities. They make it back to New York in due time, after swings around the country that show how the Depression worked out in various regions-- soup kitchens, make-work, W.P.A., begging and thievery. That this was all possible then is beyond question-- but (as a story) it never comes alive enough to seem probable for this pair. Along the way, there are class cliches reenforced that should not be nailed into place for this age group- e.g., the well-to-do being less likely to respond to pleas for help than the poor; that shame should be attached to the blue work shirt and that courage and brains can get a man back into a business suit is (for the Potter family in character) for this audience, in shockingly poor taste.

Publisher: Hill & Wang