WHAT I REALLY THINK OF YOU by M. E. Kerr

WHAT I REALLY THINK OF YOU

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KIRKUS REVIEW

This surprisingly unspectacular novel concerns two PKs, or preachers' kids. Opal Ringer's father, poor and ungrammatical, preaches of the coming Rapture at his Helping Hand Tabernacle--where people fall in the aisles, ""slain with the spirit""; Opal's fat mother is likely to burst out in tongues; and Opal herself, tormented at school for her family's religion, shrinks with shame when the kids from the higher-class high school drop in to observe. Jesse Pegler is one from the other school, and not too sure what or if he believes; but his father is also a Pentacostal preacher--a successful one who does his preaching on TV and devotes much energy to ""bottom-line Christianity."" There is some resentment on the Ringers' part, especially when a high school girl sheds her crutch at the Hand (that her lameness was faked is her own secret) and Guy Pegler reaps the fame and profit. (""Daddy says Guy Pegler stole our miracle,"" is how Opal puts it.) Still, Opal is thrilled when Jesse, pressed by the girl he really wants, invites Opal to a big dance. Then on the day of the dance Opal's religious older brother kidnaps the famous Guy Pegler and the date is off--but, that very night, Opal finds happiness with Jesse's religious older brother and a sudden gift of tongues that makes her a successful attraction at the Hand thereafter. And so triumphs the outcast and ridiculed Opal, not with rancor but with love for her former tormentors. Where the freak world of dwarves--including an evangelical preacher dwarf--gave an edge to Kerr's contemporary satire in Little, Little, Kerr is less biting, and less on her own edge, in this encounter with the varieties of evangelical religious experience. Simple Opal Ringer, with her vision of blinding light, is a long way from Kerr's sharp, sophisticated, contemporary heroines from Dinky Hocker to Little Little; and though championing Opal may be more deeply defiant, neither Kerr's heart nor her wit seems to be in this ironic vindication.

Pub Date: April 7th, 1982
Publisher: Harper & Row