BOSS OF THE POOL by Robin Klein
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BOSS OF THE POOL

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KIRKUS REVIEW

In a brief novel by the author of last year's fine Hating Alison Ashley, Shelley is furious because her mother, Anne, has taken an evening job as occupational therapist at a hostel for the mentally and physically handicapped. Shelley may stay with a boring baby-sitter or come along and have the use of the pool (she's a champion swimmer). When the baby-sitter's absence forces her to accompany her mother, Shelley is outspoken in her antipathy to the hostel's inmates, makes no effort to be accommodating, and responds to the interest of Ben, full grown but mentally a toddler, with outrage. Ben likes her, but is terrified of the water; in spite of herself, and without ever completely dropping her defensive rudeness, Shelley cajols him into the pool, rewards his courage, teaches him rudimentary swimming, and even gives him a new swim suit. This is an extraordinary book in honestly depicting the fear and cruel taunts that are common and perhaps natural in children who confront people who are different before they understand their humanity. Cleverly, Klein makes her readers sympathize with Ben before Shelley does; with their own consciousness raised, they will applaud her concluding turnaround. The low-budget format comes at a high price, but it's worth it for what's inside.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1988
Page count: 80pp
Publisher: Viking