PAGEANT by Kathryn Lasky


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For Sarah Benjamin, the four Novembers of the Kennedy years are a time of exploration of values and of self-realization. Sarah is one of three Democrats at a conservative Indianapolis girls' school. Each year she's a rebellious shepherd (too dark for an angel) in the Christmas pageant; each year her response is more complex, always exploring the meaning of groups and individuality. Emulating her liberal parents, she brings a social conscience to school reports: an investigation that shows her community imagines all angels as blue-eyed blondes; an essay on what being an ""assimilated Jew"" means to her; a physics project in which a transparent mirror allows subjects to see their faces combined with those of, among others, Martin Luther King. At 16, her revulsion at the school's biogtry becomes overwhelming; leaving her beloved, supportive parents, she runs away to her older sister in New York, a climax heightened by the movingly portrayed national grief at Kennedy's death. Many threads run through this richly textured autobiographical novel: the joy of words; good-natured bantering; the tensions and balances in a close-knit family, especially between sisters; the meaning of love between man and woman; the hope engendered by the New Frontier. Lasky also introduces a lot of social history; early on, some of it seems irrelevant, but by the end it has all been incorporated into her careful design. Sarah's quest for justice and truth has the authenticity of remembered experience, no glimmer of clichE, and plenty of humor and action.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1986
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: Four Winds/Macmillan