CHILDREN OF THE DARK by Irving Shulman

CHILDREN OF THE DARK

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Here's a book that will set one's teeth on edge -- but that, perhaps, needed to be written- and read. In the current preoccupation with the problems of delinquency, generalities are too often drawn,- exempting the Middle West; placing delinquency in major cities; exonerating middle class, well-to-do parents. Now, from the author of two devastating social commentaries (The Amboy Dukes, a gang story set in Brooklyn, and The Square Trap dealing with the Mexican underprivileged in California), comes a closeup of a typical ""nice"" midwestern town and a segment of high school youth with families that are well off, and an exploration of the complex psychological factors. He places on parents, with the imbalance of their emotional and social lives, blame for being flighty, hateful, mutually jealous, unwilling either to recognize or correct their errors. Steve Stark, a newcomer to Barlow, and the central character, has achieved a trifle more stability despite the very unpleasantness of his home background. His mother is a social climber; his father antagonizes him by his poisonous linking of their attitude towards women. Steve seeks turbulent solace in Judy, whose sexiness, born of a jealous mother and an indulgent father, acts as a catalyst for the gang. Rivals, at odds with each other, the boys commit a variety of mayhem. Buzzy and Chuck, two chief contenders for her favors, have an automobile race, which is fatal to Chuck. Steve turns on Buzzy. Playing counterpoint is Plato, an outsider whose high I.Q. doubles his efforts to a conformity which ends in murder. Plato is caught- decreed a ""psycho""- and Steve is left to wonder if the future holds any chance of real understanding. A shocking book, which packs a terrific wallop, this is certain to be seized on for its sensationalism by teen agers. We can only hope the lesson is driven home.

Pub Date: Jan. 5th, 1955
Publisher: Holt