WHAT I HEARD by Mark Geller


Email this review


Seventh-grader Michael Kramer indulges in eavesdropping on his extension phone--and discovers that his father is having an affair. Unlike the more tempestuous parents of Michael's best friend, Tannenbaum, the Kramers are quietly loving. Mom's a lawyer; Dad works at home. When Michael learns about Celeste, he is distraught: his happy home life may be disrupted, and Mom, who doesn't deserve it, will be miserable. In trying to warn off Celeste, Michael inadvertently lets Dad know that he's discovered his secret; Dad realizes what he stands to lose and promises reform; eventual forgiveness, with Biblical precedent quoted, is predicted. Geller, who used an authentic 12-year-old voice in My Life In Seventh Grade (1986), here simplifies his style so that it should be accessible to readers well below grade level. Cleverly utilizing the repetitiveness of kids' banter to evoke humor rather than boredom, Michael's narrative seems natural if a little fiat, though the level of thought and language may be implausibly elementary for the well-educated family described. Nor does it seem likely that Dad would be oblivious to the listener on the other line. However, for slow readers this is a thoughtful, compassionate presentation of a situation that will be familiar to many of them, written with a good ear for kids' speech and a perceptive view of their attitudes.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1987
Page count: 128pp
Publisher: Harper & Row