Mary Stolz Marilyn Gardner - Essay

Marilyn Gardner

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[By the Highway Home] is another in a growing body of teenage books that have had the spun sugar coating scraped off in order to be "relevant." Relevancy here is two-pronged, dealing with a family's grief after a beloved brother is killed in Vietnam, and with their despair when the economic recession puts their father out of a job. The story is told by Catty, a sensitive, likable, feet-on-the-ground 13-year-old, and it is Catty who both makes and saves the story. Not all the events are credible (readers who have ever moved may wonder if such a major change in lifestyle could be quite as instantly accepted and accomplished). But on balance the story is a realistic treatment of mostly realistic situations, and a pleasant bit of reading…. (p. B5)

Marilyn Gardner, in The Christian Science Monitor (reprinted by permission from The Christian Science Monitor; © 1971 The Christian Science Publishing Society; all rights reserved), November 11, 1971.

[This] story of a girl's survival of her parent's separation and divorce [Leap Before You Look] is long, heavy, and humorless…. [Characterization] (even though some of the people "change" or are seen by Jimmie in a changing light) is too often either sledgehammer stereotype … or static repetition of the same projection…. The continuity is frequently interrupted by gratuitous references and tiresome conversations about new lifestyles, fem lib, encounter groups and ecology, which instead of providing a convincing 1971 background just add to the strain. (p. 486)

Kirkus Reviews (copyright © 1972 The Kirkus Service, Inc.), April 15, 1972.