MEMORY by Margaret Mahy
Kirkus Star

MEMORY

KIRKUS REVIEW

Another splendid, complex tour de force from the Carnegie-winning author of The Haunting and The Tricksters. Jonny Dart, 19, questing for the elusive memory of the details of his sister Janine's fatal fall five years ago, is in the habit of succumbing to rage and "looks like trouble"--but is "more trouble to [himself] than to anyone else." Recovering from a binge, he falls in with old Sophie, who has Alzheimer's disease. Mistaking him for someone from her past, she takes him to her chaotic house, where he finds himself drawn into a new role: creating order, caring for Sophie, and ultimately making longer-term arrangements for her care. Meanwhile, he has located Bonny, Janine's close friend and the other witness to her death. Though their reacquaintance begins tentatively and is interrupted by Jonny's overviolent attempt to embrace her--and the power she symbolizes for him--her alternate memories help him to relinquish his unearned guilt for his part in Janine's death. Mahy's narrative is rich in images, analogies, parallels, and allusions, a poetic feast for the mind and heart. Jenny finds that memories--like Sophie's marvelous tragic-comic lapses with their cozy, inappropriate conventions and endless repetitions--can be "wild stories, always in the process of being revised, updated, or having different endings written onto them." Thus he can evolve a new version of his relationship with his family (perhaps Janine was neither the favorite nor the most talented), with Bonny (who reveres Jonny's power as much as he reveres hers), even with the evil bully Nev--and give up the ghosts of memory, give up dancing under the danger sign at the cliff's top, and be reborn: ordinary, under control, even lucky.
Pub Date: April 1st, 1988
ISBN: 000712337X
Page count: 292pp
Publisher: McElderry
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 1988




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