Abby, My Love Critical Context - Essay

Lee Hadley

Critical Context

(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

Most readers and teachers know that there is no one called “Hadley Irwin.” Two writers, Lee Hadley and Ann Irwin, joined to share their names and talents. Irwin died in 1995, and readers assume that Hadley will continue writing on her own.

In some ways, this novel was an anomaly for the authors. Most of their books are for younger readers, and many do not utilize psychological realism. Abby, My Love came out in the middle of a trend in young adult literature toward examining incest and other forms of sexual abuse. Other topics of serious concern only started to appear in the 1970’s, titles dealing with suicide, anorexia, scarification, madness, and rape. A similar title on which Hadley and Irwin collaborated is What About Grandma, a story about how old people are often seen as disposable in the United States.

Chris Crutcher, Norma Fox Mazer, and Francesca Lia Block have all written young adult novels about incest. It is telling that none of them, and not Abby, My Love, seem sufficient to deal with the incest theme alone. There are always major subjects or plot twists added to this main theme. Perhaps the novel should have been more grim in order to make its point.