SO WHO HASN'T GOT PROBLEMS? by Marjorie Franco


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This begins with 13-year-old Jennifer and her friends Myra and Dorothy sitting on the Catholic school steps (they're not Catholic) watching the new family move into their Chicago neighborhood. It ends, too neatly, with the same three plus the new girl, Angela, in the same spot watching for still another moving van. Though Angela is first seen moving with her parents and six brothers and sisters into a two-bedroom bungalow (""Where will they all sleep?""; ""They must be Catholic""), the girls believe her when she marches by later in a pink dress and sneakers and announces haughtily that ""We're very rich."" Myra in fact is so impressed that she spends all her time with Angela and invites her to San Francisco, though she had promised to take Jennifer on her trip. The story is told by Jennifer who, jealous from the start but glibly devoted to developing a ""strong character,"" does not tell Myra when she sees Angela in ""new"" clothing which she herself had sent to the thrift shop. For Jennifer there is also a touch of romance with Eddie, who moves away at the end; concern for Dorothy, who runs away from a squabbling home but is found and returned by Jennifer; and a friendly exchange with the new priest when her troubles drive her into the church to ""dip"" holy water. The church visits have a nice ring, but the central Angela bit is trivial and slack and implausible besides, and despite Jennifer's chatter about character her first-person perspective doesn't allow for any probing of her own character, Angela's, or any other.

Pub Date: April 25th, 1979
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin