Form and Content

(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

In this companion volume to An Overpraised Season (1973), Charlotte Zolotow has collected ten short stories in which a child or young adult experiences what Zolotow calls “early sorrow,” personal pain made more acute by youth, a “time of terrible intensity.”

Reynolds Price’s poignant “Michael Egerton” is representative of the collection’s theme. Its eleven-year-old narrator, who seems unusually sensitive and observant, although insufficiently mature to act according to his own principles, tells the self-incriminating story of his summer camp friendship with Michael Egerton, whose simple, unguarded honesty and thoughtful way of listening attract the narrator. He is flattered that Michael, the star of his cabin baseball team—someone clearly more poised, experienced, and mature than he is—seems to value him above the other boys. They spend their summer together, growing closer through talk. On the afternoon of the camp baseball playoffs, however, Michael’s abrupt discovery that he has a “new father” so deeply troubles him that he skips the game, causing his team to lose. Angry, thoughtless, and immature, his cabin-mates grow increasingly cruel to Michael, until, on the final night of camp, the narrator watches as they tie Michael up, spread-eagled, and leave him in the cabin while they march off to the awards banquet. By the time that the narrator sneaks back to set him free, Michael has locked himself in the bathroom....

(The entire section is 538 words.)