THE WAY HOME: A Child Therapist Looks at the Inner Lives of City Children by Lesley Koplow

THE WAY HOME: A Child Therapist Looks at the Inner Lives of City Children

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Psychotherapist Koplow (Where Rag Dolls Hide Their Faces, 1990), director of the Karen Horney Therapeutic Nursery in N.Y.C., has much to say about children who need to build safe homes within themselves to make up for a society deficient in both housing and safety. She also tells entirely too much about her own needs, stress, and vacations. The kindergarten children in a therapeutic group at a Bronx mental-health center are frightened at Christmastime: The idea of Santa Claus sparks fears of a bleed-red man who can get into their apartments despite security buzzers and locked doors. That's just one of the surprising and heartbreaking moments in Koplow's account. Homeless subway-dweller Opal (who, from her crib, witnessed her own mother's murder) and her three-year-old daughter Qimmy seem mutually devoted--but to live together, they need more than an apartment: Opal, who loves caring for sedentary ""little babies,"" says that she can't ""take care of no walking babies."" To her credit, Koplow tries to show how the realities of urban life create problems for middle- and upper-income children as well. A 14-year-old Jewish honor-student, for example--a private patient of Koplow's named Ronnie--becomes too psychoaomatically ill to attend school. But the link here to urban decay is not convincing: Though Ronnie is frightened by homeless women on the subway, the real issue dates back to family memories of the Holocaust and her mother's suicidal breakdown. And Koplow rather annoyingly includes her own steps toward a desired home: e.g., vacationing at a singles' resort in Jamaica where she ""wore a black flowered outfit with colored glass buttons and sat at a piano bar drinking Kahlúa and cream,"" or, over Chinese food, commiserating about being single with her also-unmarried brother. When Koplow focuses on the children, she is partisan, compassionate, and informed.

Pub Date: Dec. 10th, 1992
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: Dutton