Form and Content

(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

Crimes of the Heart is a play in three acts about three sisters—Lenny MaGrath, Meg MaGrath, and Babe Botrelle—who find life to be too difficult sometimes but who discover the courage and strength to overcome the “real bad days.” As a dysfunctional family living in a small Southern town, the MaGrath sisters unite to fight one another’s battles against an abusive husband, a failing career, and a sick, domineering grandfather. The secret to handling the really tough days lies in an understanding of their mother’s suicide. As they reminisce about their childhood, they discover that their friendship binds them together so that they are not alone.

Nothing seems to be going well for these sisters. Lenny’s birthday has been forgotten by everyone except her snobby cousin Chick, who gives her a box of candies from last Christmas. Claiming that she does not like her husband’s looks, Babe shot her husband and has just been released on bail. Unfortunately, her husband has pictures of her and Willie Jay, a fifteen-year-old African American boy with whom she was having an affair. Although the most joyous moment seems to be Meg’s first return to Hazlehurst in five years, she admits that her singing career in California was a failure that she has been working in a dog food factory.

The MaGrath sisters are consumed by their mother’s suicide, in which she hanged both herself and her cat, for which they can find no reason. All of them believe that a connection exists between their current troubles and this tragic event. At first, insanity seems to be the cause of their problems: Meg accuses...

(The entire section is 663 words.)