Norma Klein Eileen Kennedy - Essay

Eileen Kennedy

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Why shouldn't an intelligent and independent thirty-two-year-old woman have a baby by her lover whom she doesn't want to marry? One good reason why is that if she's snappish, surly, and selfish as this female narrator, no child needs her. This very slight novel [Give Me One Good Reason], told from the point of view of a heroine with the impossible name of Gabrielle Van de Poel, recounts the impact Gabrielle's decision has on her liberated, arty parents, her earth-mother sister who makes raising two children seem a herculean task, and her sister-in-law who hates children. Because nobody in this novel suffers from any moral strictures—among the various characters there is an unbelievable number of abortions and extramarital affairs—I kept wondering what Gabrielle was making such a fuss about. (pp. 376-77)

I found the characters cold, unconvincing, and endlessly manipulative of other people, especially the metallic Gabrielle. On the other hand, the writing is sparse and clean, with crisp dialogue and an insistence on concrete details that gives the book a certain immediacy. Let's say if the reader's idea of the good life is found among the values portrayed in New York Magazine, that reader might find this book meaningful, significant, and oh, so real. I didn't. (p. 377)

Eileen Kennedy, in a review of "Give Me One Good Reason," in Best Sellers, Vol. 33, No. 16, November 15, 1973, pp. 376-77.