RUMORS OF PEACE by Ella Leffland


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In presenting young Suze Hansen's northern-California adolescence, which stretches from Pearl Harbor to the bombing of Hiroshima, Leffland (Mrs. Munck, Love Out of Season) renounces all pretensions. Suze couldn't be more normal; so porous and unaffected is she that her worst problem is that when she swims in chlorinated pools her blonde hair picks up a faint green tint. But with war comes worry about bombings, hatred for the local Nisei, her brother being drafted, and the overweening realization that war kills a lot of nice people like Suze and her family without cause. These new concerns for Suze are paralleled by the world-widening she gets from a new junior-high friend, Peggy, and her precocious, Berkeley-coed sister, Helen Maria; under their influence, Suze learns to be confused about Jews, socialism, religion, God, concentration camps, and the UN. And last but not least in Suze's compressed development is her awakening to sex and sociability; learning about a greater world isn't so different from finding out that Dumb Donny in your homeroom class isn't really so dumb--and that he likes you. All this reluctant, charged awakening is given over by Leffland in a loping, sweet-time-taking style, every sharp corner rounded off. And, after a while, it mostly seems bland, too insistent, and overdone: the balance between Suze's normal girlhood and her advancing conscience eventually cancels out both, leaving only a vaguely heartwarming glow that bites no deeper than an old Father Knows Best episode. Leffland is crafty and patient with her material, but the scheme beneath the plainness shows up too early, and real interest soon fades--except perhaps for a YA audience.

Pub Date: June 27th, 1979
ISBN: 0060913010
Publisher: Harper & Row