Barbara Corcoran

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In Paige Dixon's "May I Cross Your Golden River?" 18-year-old Jordan Phillips discovers and faces the fact that he has a wasting disease of the muscles that will surely kill him in a few months or years…. There are few surprises in the development of the story. A conventional plot diagram would have to show it all downhill, though Jordan's progress through denial, fear, resentment and self-pity to some sort of acceptance is still worthy of respect even if predictable. Nevertheless, his affliction has something in common with the case of "movie-star's-disease" that so picturesquely carried off Ali McGraw in "Love Story"—which is to say that it is bloodless, physically almost painless, unequivocally hopeless, and affords its victim a dignity often denied to those of us clods who merely die of cancer or cirrhosis of the liver.

What makes the book worth reading is the warm and careful drawing of the Phillips family, particularly the four brothers. Their jokes are funny, their horseplay and self-mockery ring true, and in the end their lives and relationships are more important and moving than the drama of death.

Georgess McHargue, "For Young Readers: Love and Death," in The New York Times Book Review (© 1976 by The New York Times Company; reprinted by permission), January 4, 1976, p. 8.

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