END OF A DARK ROAD by Crystal Thrasher


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The title promises a surcease of their troubles, at least, for the 1930s-Indiana Robinsons of The Dark Didn't Catch Me (1975) and Between Dark and Daylight (1979). But the year that narrator Seely turns 15 is a holding-pattern punctuated by abrupt, almost offhand deaths and further local violence--without the strong crisscross relationships of the previous books. (Unfortunate, bereft Nellie Pender is providentially remarried, and peripheral; Seely's great friend Byron Tyson is off to college, and doesn't return.) It even comes to seem that the whole book is taking place on the school bus, either during Seely's trips to and fro (when her unruly assertiveness gets her into scrapes, and she exchanges confidences with sympathetic driver Mr. Avery), or during lunch hour (when she and her three close friends share their scanty Depression fare, joke about boys, and generally buck each other up). A long-suffering classmate is murdered by his brutal stepfather--who, it turns out, is murdering everyone who stands between him and the boy's farm. (He dies after being torn apart by an angry hog.) One of Seely's girlfriends is raped, another almost loses her legs in a truck accident. And Seely's father, jobless and working for the W.P.A., suddenly sickens and dies. Mrs. Robinson's depressed withdrawal and eventual return to life then provide the only sustained dramatic episode: at the close she has started a pie-baking business and the family is moving to a new, nearby town. As before, there is a raw, gritty authenticity to the happenings and non-happenings--but little to hold a reader who isn't committed to Seely, and the series, to start with.

Pub Date: Sept. 10th, 1982
Publisher: Atheneum