Gunnel Beckman Margaret A. Dorsey - Essay

Margaret A. Dorsey

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Through a letter written to a friend, 19-year-old Annika Hallin tells most effectively of her discovery of and reaction to having leukemia [in Admission to the Feast]…. In the letter, written over a 48-hour period, she recounts the events of the recent past—her love affair with Jacob, her unexpected reconciliation with her long-absent father and his subsequent death, her relationship with her mother, her summer job as an aide in an old people's home, observations of the early spring countryside—and reminiscences about childhood memories. The ending is stunning in its ambiguity: the possibility that Jacob may have been killed accidentally in his hurry to reach the cottage; that Annika might commit suicide; that everything might turn out happily. The avoidance of a neat wrap up is the capstone to a well-controlled story with fresh, balanced characterizations. Teenage girls will find it easy to identify with Annika's conflicting feelings about Jacob and her own identity and appreciate the well-handled treatment of an admittedly melodramatic situation. The author has resisted the many obvious opportunities to preach on subjects ranging from individual happiness to social justice, allowing the fully-developed character of Annika to speak for herself. (pp. 63-4)

Margaret A. Dorsey, in her review of "Admission to the Feast," in School Library Journal, an appendix to Library Journal (reprinted from the December, 1972 issue of School Library Journal, published by R. R. Bowker Co./A Xerox Corporation; copyright © 1972), Vol. 19, No. 4, December, 1972, pp. 63-4.