KIND HEARTS AND GENTLE MONSTERS by Laurence Yep

KIND HEARTS AND GENTLE MONSTERS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

There are monsters aplenty in this novel about an all-round leader type at Loyola High School in San Francisco and his relationship with Chris, an outwardly bold and nasty, inwardly insecure girl who went through parochial school with him and then to public high school. Near the start Charlie is shaken by a poison chain letter, initiated by Chris, who accuses him of smugness and insensitive meddling. When he goes over to protest, she invites him to the movie Repulsion. . . which fascinates Chris but repulses Charlie. How could anyone be so sick? Well, Chris' mother--who has tried suicide, verbally batters her daughter, and (in Chris' view) brought on her husband's fatal heart attack--comes close. You will share Charlie's horror at her trancelike but manipulative performance at a restaurant, sliding a nail file back and forth, back and forth, across the veins at her wrist. Then there is Duane, the twisted little boy hung up on Godzilla, whom Chris, becoming a "meddler" herself, tries to help--but accidentally disillusions by revealing that the monster is played by a human actor. Faced with all this, Charlie is shaken enough to recognize the "monster in the hearts of people everywhere." Kind hearts are harder to come by, but Charlie's own cold and abstract caring has been humanized as a result of his feelings for Chris; and, in return, though she seems unreachable at times, he will help her change her step from a "Godzilla stomp" to something kinder. Though this monster motif is pointed up so emphatically as to seem a calculated scheme, the scheme has its fascination and so do the floodlit characters. One never doubts their urgency, or the blood-freezing tension of their interaction.
Pub Date: March 17th, 1982
ISBN: 0060267321
Page count: 177pp
Publisher: Harper & Row
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1982




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