DECEMBER STILLNESS by Mary Downing Hahn

DECEMBER STILLNESS

KIRKUS REVIEW

A touching novel that follows a 14-year-old as she becomes intrigued by a homeless, disturbed vet and tries to "help" him. Underachiever Kelly plans to be an artist--a real one, not just a drawer of greeting cards like her mother. She certainly is not going to turn into a materialistic lawyer like her father. When she has to write a paper on a current issue, she chooses homeless people and starts watching a man in the public library. She first approaches him in a typical teen-ager's Flippant, mocking manner, until stopped by a librarian who firmly tells her to mind her own business. Feeling a mixture of embarrassment, concern, and a wish to prove that she is not really heartless, Kelly then tries to force the man to talk and accept food and clothing. Eventually, he becomes so upset that he throws a magazine at her, giving the people who have been repelled by his smell and strangeness an excuse to forbid him access to the library. Shortly afterwards, when the man is run over and killed, Kelly has to deal with some strong guilt feelings. In trying to sort out her emotions, she quarrels with her father--a vet who has blocked his own memories. Finally, Kelly and her father take a trip together to the Vietnam Memorial; while in Washington, they each manage to do some healing. Kelly is a believable young woman with strengths and weaknesses that are clear to the reader, if not to herself--she's not ridiculous or unlikable, just a normal girl with quirks. Her mixture of compassion and anger is well drawn. The fact that many teenagers are fascinated by the Vietnam War and its consequences may give this novel a fairly wide appeal.
Pub Date: Sept. 23rd, 1988
ISBN: 0380707640
Page count: 196pp
Publisher: Clarion
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 1988




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