IN THRALL by lane DeLynn


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A breezily engaging account of a teenage girl's first love, with a few differences: the girl is particularly bright, her love (reciprocated) is for an older woman, and the woman is one of her high school teachers. Lynn, the 16-year-old narrator, attends a N.Y.C. high school for the gifted (there's a fine small scene which exactly captures the sound of precocious, articulate girls fatuously discussing Hamlet in class); she's phobic about vomiting, has a set of Jewish parents much less sophisticated than she is, and goes along (minus pleasure) with boyfriend Wolf's gross petting sessions. But when 40-ish Miss Maxfeld invites Lynn over to her apartment for tea one afternoon, Lynn's life abruptly shifts. Miss Maxfeld quickly establishes some rules of the relationship: Lynn is to be a ""monster,"" with Miss Maxfeld her wearily amused trainer and civilizer; the style of their initial private conversations is one of flirtatious verbal sparring, even mutual insult. Bed comes later, and with it Lynn is set adrift, in thrall to something as horrifying to her as it is attractive; she bobs helplessly in confusion, seeing homosexuality everywhere and nowhere. (There's a lovely, funny scene of Lynn and her parents meeting a spinster aunt's boyfriend, who's obviously gay.) And ultimately she's as unsure about what the homosexual experience will lead to as she is about getting into Radcliffe. Yet for an adolescent ship so without a sail, Lynn is a perky and winning character. Unfortunately, however, the same can't be said of Miss Maxfeld: DeLynn (Some Do) makes her much too endlessly patient, long-suffering, and smotheringly wise in the ways of evanescent emotions--like an E. M. Forster character squared. There's a marring imbalance, then, between the principals here--but the situation of first love conquers most if not all; so this is a comic slice of verve overall, with refreshing unpretentiousness and a lack of self-congratulation (rare in most homoerotic contemporary fiction).

Pub Date: June 1st, 1982
ISBN: 0299190145
Publisher: Potter--dist. by Crown