CLOSE TO THE EDGE by Gloria D. Mildowitz


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As a vehicle for addressing the upsurge of teenage suicide, groaningly obvious--but with empathic possibilities (and a few practical pointers) regardless. Sixteen-year-old narrator Jenny Hartley, ""the self-confident, self-sufficient teenager who had it made,"" almost skis off into the void on a numbing family vacation. Nudged into volunteer work--anathema to her California in-crowd--to improve her college chances, she becomes accompanist for a Jewish old-peoples' band. That starts her to wondering about her abandoned half-Jewishness (her doctor-dad changed his name, her mother doesn't want to hear about it) and also to thinking about Grandma Horowitz, alone (like some of the Sunshine Seniors) back in New York. ""Sometimes, I think we're so rootless. . . . And now especially, now that our tree seems so shaky, it would be good having more family than just Mom, Dad, Eric, and Amy."" Meanwhile old, also semi-abandoned friend Cindy (poison to the in-crowd too), who's tried and failed to kill herself, seems to be coming round, with Jen's help. The wind-up is a draw: Jenny's family is persuaded to ask Grandma H. to come out to California--and she's persuaded by Jen to give it a try; but Cindy, having tidied up her life (not gotten better), succeeds in killing herself. Re suicide as such, not bad: Cindy's usually-detached father, suddenly revealing depths, does convey to her the reality of despair. And while her own suicidal urge isn't very credible or involving, the idea that a winner would give way has point.

Pub Date: April 15th, 1983
Publisher: Delacorte