STEPPING ON THE CRACKS by Mary Downing Hahn
Kirkus Star

STEPPING ON THE CRACKS

Age Range: 10 - 14

KIRKUS REVIEW

It's late 1944; Margaret and friend Elizabeth, 12, are hoping that their brothers, who until recently were at the local high school, will be home from Europe for Christmas. Meanwhile, tracking their archenemy, bully Gordy, they discover that his older brother Stuart is hiding in the woods near their Maryland community of College "Hill" (a.k.a. Park). The girls are outraged because Stu is a deserter, but as they learn about his family's circumstances--his alcoholic father is violently abusive; thoughtful, scholarly Stu is a pacifist out of deep conviction--they gain sympathy for his stand. Gordy hasn't been able to bring Stu enough food, and, as winter deepens, he contracts pneumonia; reluctantly, Gordy accepts the girls' help, and they bring in another neighbor--a young war widow Stu's age--to get Stu desperately needed medical care. In the end, Stu is discovered because he chooses to confront his father in the hopes of saving the rest of his family. HIS father almost kills him; Margaret is left to make peace with her conventional parents, just when they are grieving for her brother, killed in action. Like Theresa Nelson's And One retail (1989), about the Vietnam era, Hahn's story re-creates the tensions and moral climate of its period in authentic detail. Subtly portraying the contrasting attitudes of several adults during a time when any "unpatriotic" thought was quickly condemned, she sets the stage for the girls' compassionate, unorthodox response to their moral dilemma. Suspenseful, carefully wrought, and thought-provoking--a fine achievement. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 28th, 1991
ISBN: 0547076606
Page count: 218pp
Publisher: Clarion
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 1991




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