THE REASON FOR JANEY by Nancy Hope Wilson


Age Range: 9 - 12
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 The author of Bringing Nettie Back (1992) weaves another thoughtful story exploring some of the same themes. After her divorce, Philly's mom took in Janey, a retarded adult institutionalized since childhood; now, with Janey learning job skills and making her own friends, Philly realizes that she's more a member of the family than Dad ever was. When Philly and her brother Boomer visit Dad, they eat takeout and watch basketball on TV; there's nothing to do, no interaction, no sign that Dad cares about them. Meanwhile, Philly follows up on Janey's fond memories of her father and discovers that he totally rejected Janey long ago. Unaware of this, Janey also seeks him out, using her new skills; and by the time Philly has defied her own father (who chooses this moment to exert some ill-considered authority) to find the missing Janey, she is distraught and burning with questions. How could Mom have married Dad? He was brilliant, Mom explains (like Philly; also, like the nerdy rival with whom Janey ends up working on a science project). And why has Mom given Janey a home? Mom loved her retarded older sister but her parents, as was the custom, sent her to an institution. The human dynamics in this easily read novel are portrayed with remarkable subtlety. While Boomer supports his sister, his accommodation with Dad is more easily made than hers. Philly repudiates both parents, then renegotiates relationships on the basis of what she's learned. An unusually compassionate, well- crafted, and entertaining novel. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: April 1st, 1994
ISBN: 0-02-793127-7
Page count: 176pp
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 1994


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