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A QUESTION OF TRUST by Marion Dane Bauer


by Marion Dane Bauer

Age Range: 9 - 12

Pub Date: April 1st, 1994
ISBN: 0-590-47915-6
Publisher: Scholastic

 Once again, Bauer constructs a close-knit story explicating subtle ethical issues through a young person trying to work out his troubles in good faith, if sometimes wrongheadedly. Furious with his mother for moving out, Brad, 12, refuses--in the vain hope of forcing her return--to speak to her or let his loyal little brother Charlie contact her. Meanwhile, the boys take in a stray cat and, with astonishment and awe, watch her give birth. They can't tell Dad because he's known to be unforgiving and is sure to cite their irresponsibility (years ago) with pets and to take ``Cat'' to a shelter; but with neither parent to help, Cat's ongoing drama grows increasingly traumatic. To feed her, the normally honest Brad snitches Dad's change; worse, Cat appears to have eaten an ailing kitten. Horrified, the boys drive her away, then struggle to care for the remaining kitten, a round-the-clock task. When Cat returns, Charlie angrily attacks her, she's hurt, and the whole story comes out (like the father in On My Honor, Dad proves to be fair and, ultimately, supportive); a vet explains Cat's not unnatural behavior in clearing her nest of a probably dead kitten. Resonances between Brad's misconstruction of Cat's actions and his mother's are clear without Bauer's explicit restatement at the end; still, that's a small fault in a powerful, carefully wrought novel. With rare insight, Bauer delineates the web of deceptions ensnaring this family in transition, setting them well on the way to unraveling it. (Fiction. 9-12)