Betty Cavanna Lillian N. Gerhardt - Essay

Lillian N. Gerhardt

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

The roar of the 1920's is reduced to a squeak in this misfit-makes-good-in-high school novel [Joyride]…. It's all purest escape, never real: Susan's purity never falters as she faces up to school life, her conservative parents, her problems making friends, getting dates, fending off joyriding boys, and bathtub gin; the "fast girl" in her class gets pregnant, of course; the guzzling college boy who got her that way goes blind on wood alcohol. Nobody over the age of nine would doubt that Susan could come through unscathed and nobody over the age of ten with all her marbles is likely to read this. (p. 40)

Lillian N. Gerhardt, in School Library Journal (reprinted from the December, 1974 issue of School Library Journal, published by R. R. Bowker Co. A Xerox Corporation; copyright © 1974), December, 1974.

Cavanna starts out [Ruffles and Drums] with a highly topical combination—feminist sentiments in a Bicentennial setting. And at first it seems she has taken a more realistic tack, for though Sarah Devotion Kent longs to join the fighting men of Concord she is soon reduced to winding cartridge papers and nursing a wounded British officer. As it turns out, Sarah's main preoccupation is the parceling out of her affections between her betrothed sweetheart, Tom Fletcher, and the Englishman, James Butler…. But the only interest here—a lagging one—lies in how long it will take Sarah to rationalize the switch from Tom to James. A tired formula … almost an instant artifact. (p. 716)

Kirkus Reviews (copyright © 1975 The Kirkus Service, Inc.). July 1, 1975.