A SMALL PERSON FAR AWAY by Judith Kerr

A SMALL PERSON FAR AWAY

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The autobiographical heroine of When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit (1972) and The Other Way Round (1975) is a married woman now, selecting a dining-room rug in a London store when word comes from her mother's lover in Berlin that Mama is in serious condition in the hospital. Mama's trouble, Anna discovers when she gets there, is not pneumonia as Konrad first reported but a suicide attempt motivated by his infidelity. Charming brother Max arrives later, rousing all Mama's interest as always, though it's Anna who has probably saved her life. During Anna's days in Berlin, and between exchanges with Mama, Max, and Konrad, her childhood memories are dislodged by visits to the family's old neighborhood; they mix with present concern for Mama, wry reflection on her sad, undignified affair, and impatience tinged with resentment at being kept away from husband Richard. It's all so tentative and finely tuned that the ending seems disappointingly managed: on her return home, Anna realizes with joy that she is pregnant. Otherwise the author's shaping hand never obtrudes, and this has none of the reductive underlining one expects in a YA novel. And Anna, though very much a 1950s wife, is not the bland paper-doll adult that often emerges when juvenile heroines grow up. But the little girl who responded to ten-year-old Anna in . . .Pink Rabbit is unlikely to pick up on her wavelength here--perhaps readers are expected to observe the same intervals between books that the publishers have. In any ease, for whomever whenever, Kerr writes with integrity and sensitivity, allowing us in this mature encounter a sharper view of both the Anna we knew and the past we've shared with her.

Pub Date: March 21st, 1979
Publisher: Coward, McCann & Geoghegan