LOST AND FOUND by Roberta Israeloff


A Woman Revisits Eighth Grade
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 The author's memories of early adolescence, as taken from her rediscovered diaries. Israeloff (In Confidence, 1989), a contributing editor at Parents magazine and the mother of two, found her diaries and began reliving her experiences in the eighth grade. A former honors student, Israeloff relates with astonishing accounting skills the exact score on nearly every test she took in that pivotal year. Though the diaries read like the awkward scribblings of a precocious adolescent, Israeloff the grown-up has determined to see something more sinister: the ghost of the success she would have been if she were a boy. ``Rutherford,'' her father's pet name for her, takes on enormous weight and serves as a tired metaphor for the male child Israeloff was not. It is an unfortunate choice. Israeloff's adult musings are forced, and her recollections of the eighth grade are mercilessly mined for evidence of academic deprivation: An item of crude graffiti on one of Israeloff's student-council campaign posters is rendered in heartbreaking terms, although the author admits that she had forgotten the incident until the diary brought it back to her. A long series of A+ papers and other accomplishments contradict the complaints of Israeloff that, as a female, she was overlooked. Vague references to studies showing that women lose academic courage in high school are not borne out in Israeloff's case by the text, which covers her high school years in a few short paragraphs. Israeloff reaches her stride in gentle reminiscences of her father, but her broad generalizations about her home life lack nuance. The obligatory visit to her old school is sadly lifeless, and her amorphous rage at a former doting teacher offers an ugly end to this memoir. The star of her eighth-grade class, devoted as a young girl to logical argument, has produced a narrative stocked with sweeping statements ill supported by facts.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-684-80081-0
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 1996