A LITTLE DEMONSTRATION OF AFFECTION by Elizabeth Winthrop
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A LITTLE DEMONSTRATION OF AFFECTION

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KIRKUS REVIEW

An unpromising summer that begins with Jenny's best friend Lucy going off to camp and her older brother John heading for a friend's cabin. . . her growing preoccupation as the summer gets underway with a hole-digging project proposed by John but carried out by Jenny and Charley, both of whom come to see their labors as a chance to experience the warmth and sexual tension that has grown between them. . . the almost simultaneous endings of summer, project and incipient romance when Lucy returns to divert Charley's attention. . . . The scheme sounds unremarkable--except that Charley too is Jenny's brother, an asthmatic middle child whom she's hardly noticed in John's overshadowing presence but gets to know as he mourns his murdered dog Moses and, later, as the two dig away at the 16-foot hole, ending in a cave-like room, that John has conceived as a retreat from their parents. Winthrop handles Jenny and Charley's early adolescent gropings with sensitivity and makes that one late night hug a natural outcome of their respective losses (John's presence and attention, Moses' life), their parents' inhibitions about demonstrating affection, and, too, Charley's itchy curiosity about making it with girls. Jenny's changing moods pervade the story--her early irritation and hurt about John's new indifference, her sympathy and then consuming longing for Charley, her painful, perverse withdrawal from the family after Charley breaks away from the mutual spell, her relief upon finally spilling it all to Pa, who is remarkably tactful and supportive. As in Walking Away [KR, 1973), Winthrop projects another keenly felt summer of changes.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1975
Publisher: Harper & Row