FOOTFALLS by Elizabeth Harlan


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Stevie (short for Stephanie) is a runner, the only freshman on the gifts' varsity team--and she makes a point at the beginning of defending serious athletics for gifts. She's doing well, but the atmosphere at home is strained because her father is ill. When he dies of cancer, she gives up running--in fact, she gives up fight in the middle of a race when it strikes her that winning won't make him live. But as the spring season draws near, she starts running again, encouraged by handsome Jeff, a fellow runner and a junior. In Stephanie's first-person narration, thoughts of sex roles and sex are a little too obviously schematized. Her feelings about her father seem authentic but, again, a little blandly and typically obvious. In the end, when she's stopped pretending that Daddy is only sick (""I guess that means I'm beginning to accept the fact that Daddy isn't ever coming back, because he can't come back, because he's dead""), she masturbates in bed to thoughts of Jeff. . . and, ludicrously (does this mean what it seems to?), repeatedly thinks back to Daddy's telling her that ""I would do lots of things for myself when I got older."" While in grief, Stephanie talks with a kindly, enlightened guidance counselor, and this smacks a bit of that ""you're okay"" tone.

Pub Date: Oct. 22nd, 1982
Publisher: Atheneum