Restless Spirit Critical Essays

Miriam Gurko


(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

While a biography can only be one author’s perceptions of another person’s life. Gurko informs readers early in the book that this biography is a work of love. Gurko’s admiration of Millay is evident, but not in any way that lessens the book’s credibility. On the contrary, it is the author’s enthusiastic portrait of Millay that holds readers’ interest. Furthermore, Gurko’s close association with Norma Millay, the poet’s younger sister, indicates the author’s desire to provide not simply a fond tribute but a well-rounded, thorough biography. The author’s enthusiasm for writing in general, and for Millay specifically, reflects the overall theme of this book—that to write is a wonderful and challenging activity.

In this sense, readers will be inspired by the spirit and dedication of Millay, learning that her writing was everything to her from her childhood until her death. Teenagers who have an interest in writing, or in any artistic field, will find it interesting and rewarding to follow Millay’s struggles and successes, the ways in which writers become inspired, and the benefits of working toward a goal that requires great discipline.

Restless Spirit has appeal beyond poetry and writing, chiefly in its portrayal of Millay’s individualistic temperament and her devotion to nature, beauty, and the value of human life. It is obvious that, from the beginning of her life, Millay was determined to overcome obstacles and to make her own way. The fact that she came from a nontraditional family—her parents were...

(The entire section is 637 words.)