Form and Content

(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

“I am resting from my childhood,” Edda Combs says near the end of Good-bye and Keep Cold. She knows that when she breaks her winter reverie, she will have to be an adult. Again. She is waiting to be free of a childhood she lost when she was eight, when Henry John Fitzpatrick blew a dynamite charge too early and accidentally killed Ed Combs, her father. That was the day Edda that took charge of sixteen-month-old Jimmy and realized that Uncle Banker would not be much help. It was also the day that her mother, Frances, turned inward and shut down.

Jenny Davis’ novel depicts the lingering psychological damage done when a child must become an adult too soon, without trivializing the love that keeps this family intact. It traces Edda’s search for identity and self-worth, yet it is also her mother’s search. “I’m tired, Edda. I’m going to bed,” Frances says, and Edda is frightened more by the physical shell of her mother than by the physical loss of her father. Frances, struggling through her bereavement, remains profoundly depressed for most of the next ten years, leaning heavily on Edda for support. It is twenty months before Frances even considers getting a job; actually, Henry John finds her one. Jimmy must go to stay with a sitter; he develops night terrors and spends his days digging by the fence. Edda, however, enjoys some normalcy: She learns to ride a bike, stays overnight at Amy Eversole’s house, and develops a school...

(The entire section is 510 words.)