Barbara Wersba John W. Conner - Essay

John W. Conner

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[Run Softly, Go Fast] is overwritten. Barbara Wersba's descriptions of events tend to slow the ultimate action of the narrative. David Marks is a kaleidoscope of artistic intentions rather than a flesh and blood boy…. David's mother becomes the only real character in the novel when she enters her son's East Village pad and challenges him to try to make amends with his dying father. The other characters, Maggie who shares David's East Village pad, and Rick who shared David's love for art, are really only supporting players who reflect David's current feelings.

Despite these flaws, I believe this will be a very successful book for older adolescents. The fact that the author has created types rather than characters allows a concerned adolescent reader to enter in without being totally usurped by a character…. Barbara Wersba has skillfully revealed the elements of conflict between David and his father. (pp. 530-31)

Barbara Wersba understands the agony of establishing personal values. Run Softly, Go Fast, is an excellent study of personal values. Long after the individual conflicts portrayed in the novel cannot be remembered, an adolescent reader will recall David's chagrin when his adult heroes revealed themselves as limited men. This is a fine book for a value-conscious older adolescent. (p. 531)

John W. Conner, in a review of "Run Softly, Go Fast," in English Journal, Vol. 60, No. 4, April, 1971, pp. 530-31.