Norma Fox Mazer Karen Ritter - Essay

Karen Ritter

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Considering all the recent publicity about divorced parents who kidnap their own children, there was certain to be a juvenile novel on the subject sooner or later. And [Taking Terri Mueller] is a good one, not just capitalizing on that gimmick—in fact, readers don't learn until halfway through the book what has actually happened—but developing strong characters and a plot that involves the kidnapping angle as a basic element. Terri has always been told that her mother died when she was four years old, and since her father has effectively cut off all contact with most of their relatives …, Terri has no sources of information on her family. Terri and her father apparently have a warm, loving, open relationship; he explains their frequent moves from one city to another by his "Restless Feet." But during her 13th year, Terri begins to wonder about the gaps in her knowledge of the past and, to her great distress, she learns the truth. She does manage to contact her mother, over her father's emotional objections, and eventually re-establishes a relationship with her and with the grandparents she has all but forgotten. All the characters are very human. Both parents are portrayed sympathetically; while the author does not excuse or approve of the father's actions, it is clear that he acted out of love.

Karen Ritter, in her review of "Taking Terri Mueller," in School Library Journal (reprinted from the December, 1981 issue of School Library Journal, published by R. R. Bowker Co./A Xerox Corporation; copyright © 1981), Vol. 28, No. 4, December, 1981, p. 67.