Ewen’s treatment of Gershwin’s life is highly effective, particularly for a young audience. He intersperses sections of dialogue with descriptive narrative, including scenes with many famous personages of the era. The reader is drawn into the biographical account as the author continually relates Gershwin’s successes and accomplishments to his feelings and reactions.
The narrative seems to be objective, but Ewen also provides a personal touch that allows a greater understanding of the composer. Ewen knew Gershwin and apparently thought him to be an exceptional person as well as an amazing composer. The reader is not totally aware of the author’s personal knowledge, however, until the end of the book, when a summary of the impact of Gershwin’s work appears. A considerable amount of research is apparent, especially with regard to the accolades, criticism, and humorous comments from Gershwin’s contemporaries.
The quotations from Gershwin’s peers are useful in marking his progression from a poverty-stricken youngster of New York’s East Side to a famous composer living in a luxurious apartment overlooking the Hudson River. Gershwin’s philanthropy, sim-plicity of spirit, and overwhelming drive to compose at a frenetic pace are documented and enlivened by personal accounts and humorous quotes. His continued, meteoric success was aided by his drive to experience the world about which he wrote and included lengthy stays in Europe and South Carolina, on which he based two of his longer, most successful compositions. Ewen presents...
(The entire section is 639 words.)