THE SWAP by Norma Klein


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Teenage marriage and parenthood--in a solid, standard Klein YA-story that's framed by a sentimental tale of middle-aged love. Widower Misha Edelman, 50, a used-car salesman who hates cars, still grieves for wife Brenda, son Seth, and a baby grandchild --all killed in an auto accident two years before. Then, in his upstate New York car lot, Misha sees sullen Jed Parker, 17, and his pregnant girl friend Maddy, 15. And, thinking of his own present inertia, Misha sympathizes some with the father-to-be. (""It was so easy to get locked into things, so impossible to get out."") Meanwhile, Jed is reluctantly agreeing to marriage--now that Maddy, refusing an abortion, is over seven-months pregnant. (""Sure, why not?"") Kicked out of the house by her mother, Maddy earnestly attempts to achieve her fuzzy concept of Wifehood that Works; Jed, indifferent, finds a job in the Grounds department of Coolidge College--and also finds great sex with exciting Capri Gould, an aggressive, bright student. Then Maddy has her baby: Minerva, an ugly little mite with floppy ears and one crossed eye, whose screams drive Jed out into the night. So the hopeless marriage of frightened Maddy and frustrated Jed begins to close down. . . while Misha is having an affair with Brenda's twin sister--bouncy, comforting Ardis, happily married but efficiently cheating on silent husband Simon. And finally, when Maddy discovers, to her horror and quasirelief, that she doesn't love Minerva, there'll be new lives all around: Maddy will give Minerva away--to a reborn Misha; Jed, free at last, proposes to Capri, who's headed instead for Harvard and medicine. Two-dimensional, heavy on trendy issues and messages--but, on a YA level (where it actually belongs), sturdy with Klein's sound narrative empathy.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1983
Publisher: St. Martin's