(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

Virginia Hamilton is a master storyteller whose novels reveal young people caught in the act of learning hard lessons about living and growing. Her stirring stories teach young readers without preaching or patronizing. In A Little Love, Hamilton presents a compelling character in Sheema Hadley, an African American teenager who will appeal to many young female readers regardless of their race or ethnicity. This book marks a change in Hamilton’s approach to writing fiction for young people. Her previous works highlighted cultural themes important to young African American readers: the struggle for freedom, the proud heritage of people of African decent, and the quest for self-discovery. In this book, Hamilton begins to focus more on the theme of survival, a universal theme to which many young people can relate regardless of their background.

Survival of the deadly effects of parental abandonment is the major theme of A Little Love; it is a subject of significant importance to young people who live in broken and blended families where they have been physically and psychologically abused or abandoned by one or both parents. The emotional effects of the loss of a parent are similar for all young people. They feel anger that frequently borders on rage toward the parent who has abandoned them. They feel the pain of separation and lack the inner resources that they need to grieve the loss of the parent. They feel shame for being different from...

(The entire section is 429 words.)