Jesse Jackson John W. Conner - Essay

John W. Conner

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Adolescent readers who enjoyed meeting Stonewall Jackson and his pal Steeplehead in one of Jesse Jackson's previous books, The Sickest Don't Always Die the Quickest, will welcome the continued adventures of these two black adolescents who try to find jobs in a Southern city in 1925. But, before Stonewall starts job-hunting in earnest, Jesse Jackson treats his readers to the laying out, the funeral, and the survivor's feast in honor of Aunt Hettie, Stonewall's favorite aunt.

Jesse Jackson has a talent for combining description and fast-paced narrative….

The Fourteenth Cadillac is great fun to read. It will touch many adolescents where their weaknesses in familial relationships occur. Stonewall's younger brother is a hypocrite and a tattletale, his mother has enormous ambitions for Stonewall which are far beyond his capacities to fulfill, only Stonewall's father feels that a seventeen-year-old boy has a right to honest failure.

Adolescent readers will laugh with Stonewall and occasionally fear for him as he faces a situation for which he seems ill-prepared. But, readers know that Stonewall and Steeple will come through any situation relatively unscathed and confident of a brighter future. The Fourteenth Cadillac suggests that the human foibles of 1925 are much like those of 1973. Jesse Jackson, I think you are right! (p. 307)

John W. Conner, in English Journal (copyright 1973 by the National Council of Teachers of English), February, 1973.