LESTER'S TURN by Jan Slepian


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In this less affecting sequel to The Alfred Summer (1980), friends Myron and Claire have moved from the neighborhood and retarded Alfred, after his mother's death, has been placed in an institution. Sixteen-year-old Lester, who suffers from cerebral palsy, is disturbed by the hospital's effect on Alfie--he just sits there ""like a bundle in the Lost and Found""--and so he plans to quit school, get a job and an apartment, kidnap Alfie, and take care of him. When his first kidnapping attempt fails Lester takes Alfie out on a permitted, trial weekend visit. Old and new friends (Claire among them) turn out to assist on the ""Alfie project,"" but Alfie himself gets sick, is rushed back to the hospital, and dies of a ruptured appendix. Only then does Lester recognize that his plan to care for Alfred was really an evasion of his own life's challenges. In the course of the novel Lester encounters serveral allies who, unlike everyone else (we're told), disregard his affliction--but as we don't witness any of the negative encounters the total effect is unduly sunny and sentimental. Lester himself shows none of the caustic wit that saved the earlier novel, and Alfie's death just comes as a convenient finale to a foolish dream.

Pub Date: April 27th, 1981
Publisher: Macmillan