CAUGHT by Jane Schwartz


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This first novel, a lively and perceptive account of a tomboy growing up in Brooklyn in the late 50's, is the seventh title in Ballantine's Available Press series, wherein a printer's ""down"" or ""available"" time is used to print worthy books that might not otherwise see the light of day. Louie Mara is a ten-year-old girl who loves pigeons, the domesticated birds called Flights which once were raised and flown on rooftops all over New York. She manages to get herself taken on as apprentice or ""chaser"" to Casey, a famous ""Flyer"" nearing 40, a man with minor Mob connections, a suffocating family life, and garish girlfriends. This unlikely partnership gives the book its poignancy--Louie falls hopelessly in love with Casey, despite his drinking, his gruffness, and his arrogance when it comes to pigeons. Together, for a few months, they fly the birds off his rooftop, and Schwartz's lyrical descriptions allow the reader to understand the fascination behind a sport which has now nearly died out. But real life intrudes: Casey is involved in some gangland doings that contribute to the death of Louie's young friend, and her parents decide to move away. In a moving finale, she returns to the roof to say good-bye to Casey and the birds: ""Little by little the pigeon game was starting to disappear. The last old-timer would pass away and the last pigeon would be removed from the last roof. . . Would anyone remember that once there had been two worlds here, that life had not always begun and ended on the street? ""Caught is sometimes almost too achingly sweet, like a teen-age love song, and Louie sometimes too precocious for a ten-year-old. But, in sum, a strong debut from a very promising writer.

Pub Date: Nov. 25th, 1985
Publisher: Available/Ballantine