KNEE HOLES by Jerome Brooks


Email this review


 Hope Gallagher, 15, narrator of Brooks's latest foray into teenage angst, suffers from a poor self-image; she's sure a computer glitch put her in Dr. Everett Rogers's honors English. Then Rogers chooses her for an elite interdisciplinary program. After Dr. Cynthia Bialek, a teacher rumored to have had an affair with Rogers, ``acts out'' by hurling irrational vituperations at both Rogers and the class, the other students appoint Hope as their emissary. In notably tongue-tied interviews with both teachers, Hope manages to alleviate the tension, meanwhile discovering some of the teachers' private griefs and forgivable frailties, as well as her own emerging gifts. Like Ivan Southall, Brooks (Naked in Winter, 1990) clothes an essentially simple story in complex garb that's skillfully composed of an adolescent's anxious thoughts, fragmentary but packed with significance. Powerful ideas are telegraphed in aphorisms (``The source of all when an otherwise ethical man commits an immoral act'') or in Rogers's lectures on topics like Erikson's idea of mutuality or Conrad's Heart of Darkness; Rogers's opening speech sums up knowledge with phrases like ``...from anthropomorphism to Darwinism...ideology and principle to Id and maggotry....'' His class, intrigued and thrilled, plunges into discussion; but most readers will find the shorthand presentation merely puzzling, even when the ideas are neatly tied in with Hope's personal growth and revelations. Still, an intelligent, carefully structured novel for a special few. (Fiction. YA+)

Pub Date: March 1st, 1992
ISBN: 0-531-05994-4
Page count: 144pp
Publisher: Orchard
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 1992