A SONG FOR JEFFREY by Constance M. Foland


Age Range: 9 - 12
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In a loving, occasionally sentimental story, Dodie is having a hard year: her parents are separated, and heading for divorce; her older brother, once a comrade, now finds her useless; her hopes for the school talent show are squashed by a disastrous tryout; and there is no one her age in the neighborhood. She’s feeling sorry for herself until Jeffrey moves in, a wheelchair-bound boy with muscular dystrophy and plenty of attitude about those who look upon him with pity. Dodie is just plain curious, and her persistent overtures of friendship win out. They become good friends, and unite his talent—painting—with her singing for another talent show. Jeffrey’s condition is deteriorating rapidly, however, and Dodie is on stage alone on the night of the performance. Dodie’s self-pity, abundant in the beginning, will be difficult for readers to abide, until it becomes a part of her realistic response to Jeffrey’s illness; shocked that he will die so young, Dodie finds herself blaming him for being one more disappointment in her life. Her turnaround is warming; as the disease progresses, Dodie faces up to her selfishness, and her own good fortune in knowing Jeffrey at all. Foland skips the death scene, reigning in the sadness while celebrating the serenity the two friends have found. For sheer tear-jerking, this is not up to Lurlene McDaniel’s formulaic novels, but it has rewarding moments. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1999
ISBN: 1-56247-849-4
Page count: 194pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1999