A FIGURE OF SPEECH by Norma Fox Mazer


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Perhaps the fact that thirteen-year-old Jenny (the fourth of five children in a working class family) was an unwanted baby helps to explain her closeness to her grandfather whom the rest of the family worry and fret over until they almost succeed in making him the helpless, leftover nuisance they conceive him to be. When Jenny's older brother drops out of college and comes home with a wife, the family conspires to eject grandfather from his downstairs apartment, and when, ""failing,"" he gets in their way upstairs, they secretly investigate placement in a ""home."" But Jenny's blurted-out revelation sets the old man in motion; she follows him, by foot and bus, to his own grandparents' farm upstate (tenanted until ten years ago and now unoccupied), shares his dismay on finding the farm a shambles, and one morning -- after a few days of camping in the kitchen and living on apples and water -- finds him dead from exposure in the orchard. Jenny and her grandfather are sympathetically observed and the view of her banal family's inverted resentment has enough irritating reality to convince you that the old man knew what he was doing.

Pub Date: Sept. 28th, 1973
Publisher: Delacorte