Form and Content

(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

A Little Love is the story of an adolescent girl who hides from the demons of shame and anger that have robbed her of her childhood, of a teenager’s painful search for “a little love” to help her make the transition to adulthood. The book depicts a rite of passage, a journey in search of self, roots, personal voice, identity, and genuine love.

Virginia Hamilton begins her chronicle of a troubled teenager in a setting likely to cause distress to any self-conscious, overweight, depressed girl of seventeen tender years: a crowded school bus. School is over, and Sheema Hadley tries to hide from the insensitive taunts of fellow students who call her “She-mama” and make fun of the “lumps and rolls” that she cannot hide with her baggy clothing. The author uses a third-person narrator to tell Sheema’s story, but she balances the voice of the omniscient narrator with frequent use of dialogue that makes her characters come alive in a most extraordinary way.

The novel’s structure contains two main parts. The initial chapters that make up the first part of the book introduce readers to the main characters and to the conflicts in young Sheema Hadley’s troubled childhood and adolescence. The locales of these initial chapters alternate between Sheema’s school and her home, the world of the adolescent. It is a world of incomplete definitions of self, definitions attached to such labels as “student,” “child,” and “teenager.” It is a world in which simple solutions, such...

(The entire section is 621 words.)