WHAT IT'S ALL ABOUT by Vadim Frolov
Kirkus Star

WHAT IT'S ALL ABOUT

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Don't let the casual title mislead you: this is totally convincing youthspeak, intense and organically solid. Sasha has the keen (but younger) intuition of Holden Caulfield, a similar disdain for dishonesty, and a thoroughly justified suspicion of adults. His actress-mother is touring (longer than ever before), his sister is staying with relatives, his father is vague and remote. The boy exchanges a first kiss (and second through fifth, and more later) with a friend's older sister, goes to his father for a man-to-man, gets guarded circumlocutions about ""manhood"" instead. Gradually, the youngster senses evasions from many people--his aunt and uncle (two fine, firm characters), his mother's colleagues; always there is the rarely expressed expectation of reunion. And then Valechka, the most foulmouthed boy in school, blurts out the stinging truth: his mother has run off with a man, she isn't coming back at all. Enraged, ashamed, Sasha attacks the informer, not wanting to accept it yet somehow knowing it is true. Expelled from school, he must plan some kind of future but he leaves town to confront his mother first; seeing her with her actor--kissing him as she had never kissed his father--Sasha knows who belongs together. Fortunately, the uncle arrives to comfort him. It's a fight against growing up absurd (in the U.S.S.R.) without a trace of forced or postured innocence. Tender irony with a strong grip on the reader.

Pub Date: Oct. 4th, 1968
Publisher: Doubleday