Mary Rodgers Robert Berkvist - Essay

Robert Berkvist

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

God rest ye, Lewis Carroll. Alice, in one guise or another, is still tripping through the looking glass. Listen: "When I woke up this morning, I found I'd turned into my mother." How's that for a trip, eh, Lew? Oh, nothing serious, of course. Not that kind of trip, just one of those wish-fulfillment jobs.

The lass doing the wishing is Annabel Andrews, a feisty 13-year-old with crushing problems—a handsome, "fantastically cool" father, an attractive but annoyingly strict mother, a disgustingly neat 6-year-old brother named Ben …, rampant orthodonture and, well you know, problems. There must be a way out….

One Friday morning, Annabel wakes up in her mother's shoes. (She wakes up in her mother's bed, too, but that's someone else's trip, not Miss Rodgers's.) She sees her father—er, hubby—off to work, the kids off to school and then goes about her business. Her business turns out to be a matter of discovering what it's like to be Annabel's mother and, in other more complex ways, what it's like to be Annabel. There's lots of spiky, convincing dialogue and an ingenious wrap-up. (p. 8)

Robert Berkvist, in The New York Times Book Review (© 1972 by The New York Times Company; reprinted by permission), July 16, 1972.