COME A STRANGER by Cynthia Voigt
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In another fine novel about Crisfield, Md., Voigt tells of the growing up of Mina Smiths, fondly remembered as the girl who brilliantly defended Dicey Tillerman when the English teacher accused her of plagiarism (in Dicey's Song), and for her friendship with Tamer Shipp (of The Runner). Mina is a vibrant protagonist: super-bright, self-assured, likable. At 11, she's a scholarship student and the only black in a summer ballet program for gifted students. Joyfully, she expands her horizons in classical music, multiple friendships, and ballet; yet when she returns the next year, she is awkwardly gangly from a growth spurt; moreover, her developing social consciousness has made her so much less compliant that she's sent home, feeling all the uneasiness of precarious black/white interaction. Meeting Tamer, her father's summer replacement as minister at the local church, she finds a friend with intelligence and a questing spirit to match her own. Mina has always had a relationship of mutual confidence and respect with her parents; now Tamer, precious yet unattainable, becomes the person for whom she feels the warmest regard. Meanwhile, as years pass and schoolgirl crush becomes more mature love, Mina hears the old story about Bullet Tillerman, lost in Vietnam, meets Dicey, and brings old Mrs. Tillerman and Tamer together in a moving scene where each unexpectedly helps the other to make peace with the past. Tamer moves far away, and at the story's close Mina is lucky enough to meet a gifted young man her own age. No brief synopsis can do justice to the novel's rich texture: the warm, complex Smiths family, the carefully wrought members of the close-knit community where they live, the humorous and serious give and take, the gradual rise of Mina's awareness, the fundamentally generous spirit. Not a sequel but a parallel narrative that Voigt's fans will be eager to read; it should bring her new fans as well.
Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1986
ISBN: 068980444X
Page count: 262pp
Publisher: Atheneum
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 1986


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