BERRIES GOODMAN by Emily Neville
Kirkus Star


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Berries Goodman moves from New York City and the pastrami of the delicatessen to a suburb and the hamburger of the supermarket. The sea change is greater than that. Through Sandy Graham, the minx who lives next door, he learns how discrimination draws a line between Indian Road and Olcott Acres (strictly Jewish residential) to his tree house. Particularly when Sandra, whose attitudes are ghettoized, makes remarks about Berries' best friend Sidney Fine, the only Jew who ""sneaked in"" to their school. A serious accident for Sidney polarizes and reveals adult attitudes of which Berries had become increasingly aware. Here, in a recognizable, believable situation, the difficulty in assigning blame and analyzing motive as well as in tracing the pressures adults exert on children, who are also subject to the pressures of their own codes, is very well done. Unlike the general run of juvenile novels, the issue of anti-Semitism is not continuously slugged at, telegraphed or spotlighted. It is through nuance that the social myths go crashing -- about being Jewish, looking Jewish and having Jewish names. Berries' first person reporting is sharp. This boy doesn't miss a trick and all the incidental misadventures of transplanting from city sidewalks to suburban folkways are recounted with a direct comic vision which enhances the book's major point without reducing its serious intent. The dialogue is just as natural and relaxed as in It's Like This, Cat and indirectly (for instance, Sidney's mother who is in there protecting and pushing and wanting him ""to be perfect"") some types are well cast. We often recommend adult books for youngsters; you can do the reverse here -- anybody can find it both worthwhile and a pleasure to read.

Pub Date: April 7th, 1965
Publisher: Harper & Row