TOBY LIVED HERE by Hilma Wolitzer


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Like Gilly in Katherine Pearson's The Great Gilly Hopkins (p. 178, J-40), twelve-year-old Toby resists adjusting to a good foster home and clings to dreams of reunion with her mother--who, in this case, had a nervous breakdown a couple of years after her husband's death. Remembering her young, hip, Brooklyn Heights mother, Toby is embarrassed by the gray-haired Selwyns, who play ""elevator music,"" have doilies and canaries in the living room, and only the Reader's Digest to read. But there is Jane Eyre in Toby's bedroom, left behind by Constance, a previous foster child and now a hairdresser about to be married. And there is Constance herself, dropping in with her plans and purchases, helping Toby through her first period, later making her and younger sister Anne junior bridesmaids in the wedding. Toby also makes a friend at her new school, and gradually her unanswered letters to her hospitalized mother show her shift of interest to the new life. And when at last Mother is ready to take Toby and Anne home, neither wants to leave Queens. The ending too recalls Gilly Hopkins; but despite the parallels, Toby's sulky, more introverted unhappiness is directly felt, and her foster home, more conventional than Gilly's, is sympathetically projected without condescension or sociological strain.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1978
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux