RIGHT ON SHANE by Matthew Skulicz


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Constructed as a high-interest-low-reading-level bomber, this blatantly realistic story plunges right into a Harlem gang fight that is long on action but described in annoyingly, obtrusively short and simple words and sentences. Obtrusive too, and less excusably so, is the introduction of the story's theme, when one of the boys is shot and seriously hurt by a policeman and 16-year-old Shane, hung up on demanding respect for himself, refuses to care. Soon though, when Shane does get involved with his sister's problems, the action takes over and the story too becomes involving. Shane is stunned to find out that Lea, just 14, is pregnant, and although she is happy about having a baby he fears for her freedom and talks her into an abortion, even stealing the money for the operation. As a result Lea bleeds to death, and melodramatic as the episode undoubtedly is, Shane's panic, grief and numb solicitation for his mother at the hospital and cemetery are projected with real impact. But Skulicz's heavy hand reappears in the end when Shane suddenly realizes that his lack of respect for Lea's freedom to choose has killed his sister, and that ""respect isn't a thing you get so much as a thing you give."" Knowing then that ""what he had to do was find a better life with his brothers and sisters,"" Shane walks resolutely toward the entrance to the Black Community Organization. Not only is there a bit of a leap in the rationale here (so that insecure readers might well fear that they've missed something), but Skulicz's obvious forced conclusion indicates lack of respect for his readers. However, the central story will hook anyone who gets past the Dick and Jane framework, and is thus worth a try -- particularly considering the vacuity of most such material -- as remedial reading.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1971
Publisher: Putnam