SWEET BELLS JANGLED OUT OF TUNE by Robin F. Brancato

SWEET BELLS JANGLED OUT OF TUNE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

On her 15th birthday, Ellen is in a restaurant with her widowed mother and her grandparents when Eva, the dotty old woman who was once rich and prominent in town, disturbs their celebration. Ellen's mother and grandmother sweep Ellen away, but the young girl is resentful--for old Eva is her father's mother and Ellen has fond memories of their early times together before her mother forbade any contact. Now, though, the usually docile Ellen decides to get in touch with Eva. She finds her mentally confused; living with hoarded trash and without electricity, running water, or groceries; and, Ellen decides, badly in need of help. At first Ellen keeps her visits from her mother, though she does have the sympathy of a nice boy she's just begun seeing and the encouragement of her flighty friend Josie, who insists on coming along and then behaves so insensitively that Eva locks her in a closet. Another episode occurs when the town health department moves in on Eva's hoard and she attempts to burn down her once-grand house. All this leads to the final scene when Ellen, helped by a patient, humane psychiatrist, accepts her moral responsibility to half-trick Eva into the psychiatric floor of the local hospital. This might be more affecting if the characters had more individuality or substance or if Ellen's memories of her grandmother were shared or vividly suggested to readers. As it is, it's hard to feel involved with her genuine concern.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1982
Publisher: Knopf