"MY FATHER, THE NUTCASE" by Judith Caseley


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Zoe Cohen, 15, is struggling with the disruptions in family life caused by her father's severe depression, and with her own inner turmoil over dating. Again, Caseley (as she did in her well-regarded first novel, Kisses, 1990) captures the confusion and unwonted passivity of an assertive girl who is painfully unsure of her attractiveness--her native feistiness barely resurfaces in time to ward off the crass advances of her dates; and the author also sympathetically portrays an overstressed mother trying to cope with a job, three daughters, and a frighteningly ill husband. The gradual lifting of the father's mood is believably drawn, as is Zoe's discovery that an ordinary-looking boy who writes poetry is more fun than the callow heartthrob she's had a crush on. Here, the smart-alecky dialogue and obsessive body-consciousness of the adolescent characters, while tiresome to an adult, will ring true to YA's. Fans of Kisses may not even mind the remarkable similarity: this is a reworking of its plot, themes, and even some of its fictional devices. Still, Caseley's second is a more complex book, with subtler nuances--a stronger performance.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1992
Page count: 186pp
Publisher: Knopf