Last Updated on June 7, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 191
The fine definition of all characters, the plausibility of the situations and the variety of realistic insights into motivation make [A Figure of Speech] almost too good to be true. There is no point at which it passes into an area of depiction or explanation that would exceed the experience of a young adolescent. But there is also no point at which the psychological perceptiveness and narrative control would disappoint an adult reader.
It is hard to say whether the story would be more poignant to a young or old reader. The child may read with a strong identification with Jenny as victim; the adult will probably read with appreciation of the exposure of the stupid, attritive family conflicts. The vindication of the old man, which entails Jenny's vindication also, is one of the most pleasing Justice Triumphs plots that could be devised. (p. 207)
Tom Heffernan, in his review of "A Figure of Speech," in Children's Literature: Annual of The Modern Language Association Seminar on Children's Literature and The Children's Literature Association, Vol. 4, edited by Francelia Butler (© 1975 by Francelia Butler; reprinted by permission of Francelia Butler). Temple University Press, 1975, pp. 206-07.