A PLACE APART by Paula Fox

A PLACE APART

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Tory, 13, has just lost her father in an accident and moved to a new town with her mother when she meets Hugh--rich, arrogant, aloof, older (a high school junior), and, to her, totally fascinating. With her mother about to remarry and all of life a muddle, Hugh serves as a compelling, if unreliable, center. He wants to be an impresario and behaves now like a capricious puppeteer; when he drops her for Tom Kyle, a new boy at school, she waits to be picked up. Gradually and reluctantly, though, Tory has come to see the callousness in Hugh, and she summons courage to say no to him when she finds herself unable to complete the play he's been pestering her to write for a school performance. That's the end of her relationship with Hugh, but not of her involvement. When Tom Kyle is badly hurt in a car accident, essentially trying to prove himself, longstanding mass resentment surfaces and Hugh the ""snob"" is blamed. Tory alone argues for a fairer judgment, just as later only Tory is moved to visit Tom in the hospital. Tory's feelings for the Hugh she has glimpsed through the rare chink in his posture give some weight to her attachment and her later regret. We have seen similar hints of humanity in other such inaccessible figures, just as we have seen similar high school tragedies and mass reactions. However, Fox doesn't settle for a simple demonstration of consequences. Also, Tory's sometimes confused but always earnest attempts to sort things out give edge and undercurrent to the action; and her retrospective first-person telling, though it never gets ahead of the story, does show a seasoned perspective well beyond the outlook that Tory the subject starts out with. Everyday material, undistinguished plot, but sharpened by the Fox intelligence.

Pub Date: Sept. 26th, 1980
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux