A SOLITARY DANCE by Robert Lane

A SOLITARY DANCE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Though limp and stodgy as fiction, this case history of a seriously disturbed, schizophrenic child--by a clinical psychologist with first-hand experience--does benefit from some of the subject's intrinsic interest. When Pat McGarry arrives at Merrick State Hospital in California to intern under Dr. Scott, eight-year-old Mike Harris, child of a schizophrenic mother and an unstable, religious-fanatic father, has been in residence three years. Wary, tense, refused any kind of communication with others, Mike is given to ritualized movements and gabbling monologues, often staring listlessly while moving about the grounds. So Dr. Scott gives empathic Pat permission to ""wing it"" with Mike: Pat finally hits upon using Mike's interest in ""hiking"" to introduce the idea of companionship, the new experience of ""working together."" And though an unexpected visit from a frantic Mr. Harris triggers a screaming regression, eventually Pat will bring Mike to an openness with others that once seemed impossible--plus hopes of successful home visits (Mrs. Harris has been receiving treatment) and ultimate release. Lane carefully transcribes the mangled diction of a disturbed child (""I few bahd, unhahppy"") and the psychologist's repetitious tutoring: ""I also want you to know that it's just super to have my hiking buddy as close to me as you have been. . . . That feels very, very good to me, and I hope it does to you too. You're really a good friend and it's nice to do things together."" But while admirable and hard-working as a therapist's write-up, there's no novelistic texture or depth here to reach beyond a limited, specialized readership.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1982
Publisher: Serrell & Simons (Box 64, Winnebago, WI 54985)