Fran Arrick Stephanie Zvirin - Essay

Stephanie Zvirin

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[In God's Radar, moving] from Syracuse to a small southern town is somewhat of a culture shock for the [Cable family]—especially for 15-year-old Roxie—but it isn't long before their neighbors, the Pregers, make them feel welcome by introducing them to the Stafford Hill Baptist Church community…. While her parents seem satisfied with Stafford Hill, Roxie isn't sure how she feels, and her struggle to sort out her confusion forms the crux of the story. Some readers will undoubtedly view the book as a judgment of fundamentalism, but the author does attempt to balance her portrait of the church. While she draws Stafford Hill members as unashamed proselytizers who lard everyday conversations with Bible verses (this includes young people as well as adults), she also emphasizes their sincerity and good works. Individual characterizations are not so evenhanded. Most supporting characters have been deliberately fashioned to express specific points of view about the church. Yet despite this lack of subtlety, Arrick has put together a compelling story, and what comes across with particular force is the frightening vulnerability of teenagers and the effect peer pressure has on their intellectual freedom.

Stephanie Zvirin, in a review of "God's Radar," in Booklist, Vol. 79, No. 20, June 15, 1983, p. 1333.