Norma Fox Mazer Ethel R. Twichell - Essay

Ethel R. Twichell

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

A single neighborhood is apparently the setting for [Summer Girls, Love Boys and Other Short Stories, a collection of] nine short stories that are otherwise unrelated and are uneven in quality. Among the best of them is "How I Run Away and Make My Mother Toe the Line," in which a young girl—big, mouthy, and prickly about her rights—runs away from her weary, bossy mother, only to realize on her return a grudging respect and love for Mom. In the story the author has successfully used the rhythms and cadences of street talk to reveal character and plot. Another good tale, "Down Here on Greene Street," again shows the author using specific speech patterns and details of food, dress, and furniture with a sure hand, as a middle-aged widow reaches a decision to remain alone in her own home rather than move to Florida with a man she is genuinely fond of. Other stories, however, are not as successful because of a certain slickness in style and because the reader feels less concern for the central characters. All of the stories revolve around girls or women and deal with the discovery each one makes about herself or others, opening the way for growth or at least for an enlightened acceptance of life. Some of the narratives lack the dramatic impact of good short stories, but throughout the book the author skillfully articulates the speech and emotions of believable people. (pp. 660-61)

Ethel R. Twichell, in her review of "Summer Girls, Love Boys and Other Short Stories," in The Horn Book Magazine (copyright © 1982 by The Horn Book, Inc., Boston), Vol. LVIII, No. 6, December, 1982, pp. 660-61.