CLOUDY-BRIGHT by John Rowe Townsend


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Townsend writes so well that it's easy to overlook the unlikelihoods in this engaging story and keep on reading about two older teenagers and the Hasselblad that brings them together. Jenny is trying out her father's camera; Sam spots it (not her) after he loses the one he borrowed from his Polytech's Visual Arts department; and, in one of the less convincing moments in this briskly paced light romance, her persuades her to let him use the pricey Hasselblad for a school contest. Theirs is a slow-growing, virtually chaste relationship, based at first on picture-taking--in Brighton, Stratford, York--then on stronger ties. Although the two are genuinely attractive, some questions about the set-up persist. Does Sam have to use a Hasselblad? Would a Visual Arts student know so little about photography theory? Would Jenny from a comfortable home really go off with a scruffy-looking young man? Probably no, no, and no, but teenagers may read right past such questions and enjoy watching the relationship grow. In alternating chapters, Sam and Jenny tell their different sides of it, which sharpens the contrast and keeps their future in some suspense. Eventually, Sam gets the lost camera back, wins the contest (Jenny frames the shot and sends in the entry), and learns about classmates who use people. He gets his real insight into photography from Jenny's Gramp, who observes that a camera is a reporter that reports the photographer as well. Jenny is a less developed figure, but she does more than supply the apparatus: with a better eye for photographs, size serves as a strong foil to Sam's more technical approach. Townsend, furthermore, knows how kids talk about their days, and how social mistakes refine their perspectives.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1984
Publisher: Lippincott