Norma Klein Patty Campbell - Essay

Patty Campbell

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

A pleasant surprise from an author whose recent work has been disappointing is Love Is One of the Choices, by Norma Klein. Ever since Mom, the Wolfman, and Me, we have been hoping for another book from her that takes a look at modern manners with compassion and wit. Love Is One of the Choices is that book—but much, much more. No junior novel, this, but a fully articulated and insightful double love story. The contrast between fiercely independent Maggie and artistic and dreamy Caroline is accentuated by the men they choose for first lovers. Brilliant Maggie meets her match in pleasant, determined Todd, and Caroline's fantasy love for Justin, her high school science teacher, becomes reality when his neurotic wife leaves him. Both young women struggle, but in different ways, to keep their own identities in the face of the temptation to surrender to emotional security.

A source of tension for the reader is that each appears to have chosen the man that would be right for the other. In the end the characters explore this perception and then set it aside. The story has a wealth of funny or poignant moments that hang in the memory: the friendly intellectual sparring between Maggie and her psychiatrist father, fragile Caroline's terror at a quarrel with Julian, Maggie and Todd's cheerful and matter-of-fact first bedding. Here is a love story that we can give to YA's without apology.

Patty Campbell, in a review of "Love Is One of the Choices," in Wilson Library Bulletin, Vol. 53, No. 8, April, 1979, p. 579.