(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Cynthia Voigt 1942–

American novelist.

Voigt's novels for young adults are noted for their realistic plots and well-developed, individualized characters. The role of the family figures prominently throughout Voigt's work. Her first novel, Homecoming (1981), introduces Dicey Tillerman, who is also the protagonist of Voigt's Newbery Prize-winning Dicey's Song (1982). In Homecoming, twelve-year-old Dicey must take charge of her three younger siblings after their mother, who is on the brink of a mental breakdown, deserts them. This novel recounts the hardships faced by the children during their search for a home and the warmth and love that binds them together. Although some critics found the work overly detailed and lacking in credibility, most gave the book favorable reviews. Dicey's Song, which many critics consider more tightly constructed than Homecoming, follows the lives of the Tillerman children after they move in with their grandmother. Critics commend the depth with which Voigt portrays the children's psychological growth as they struggle to adapt.

Voigt's recent A Solitary Blue (1983) chronicles the painful adolescence of Jeff Green, a boy introduced as a secondary character in Dicey's Song. This work also revolves around family issues: Jeff's mother has deserted him, leaving him in the charge of his distant and reserved father. Together the father and son learn to trust each other and to enjoy the love developing between them. Tell Me If the Lovers Are Losers (1982) explores the friendship between four individuals with strikingly different backgrounds and attitudes toward life. The Callender Papers (1983) differs from Voigt's other novels, for it is a mystery set in the past. However, like the other novels, its plot is realistic and carefully paced and its thematic foundation is based on the family.

(See also Contemporary Authors, Vol. 106 and Something about the Author, Vol. 33.)