Eleanore Braun Luckey
In A Family Failing, Arundel has portrayed through amazingly real-life conversations the changing relationships, over a period of time, of husband and wife, mother and daughter, father and daughter, mother and son, father and son, sister and brother. Each person is both an individual and a family member with his own peculiar ties to every other member. The basic concept that one's feeling about others and one's behavior toward them is determined by how one feels about oneself is beautifully demonstrated in the father's rising resentment of his son as his own self-esteem falls. The importance of one's sense of identity as based in one's profession is emphasized by the crumbling of the stable, happy husband-wife relationship when father loses his job and mother succeeds at hers. The most vivid and empathically portrayed relationship is that between the daughter, who is the first-person storyteller, and her father.
The story is written with crisp, down-to-earth language—most of it in direct-quotation dialogue that reveals the character and feeling of the participants. It is an honest presentation of a family as it falls apart—its unhappiness, its saving graces, and, very poignantly, its pain in separation. (pp. 176-77)
Eleanore Braun Luckey, "Family Relationships and the Growing-up Task in Four Recent Novels for Adolescents'," in Children's Literature: Annual of The Modern Language Association Seminar on Children's Literature and The Children's Literature Association, Vol. 4, edited by Francelia Butler (© 1975 by Francelia Butler; reprinted by permission of The Children's Literature Foundation, Box 370, Windham Center, CT 06280), Temple University Press, 1975, pp. 176-77.∗