A Restless Spirit Critical Essays

Natalie S. Bober


(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

At first glance, Frost is a logical choice for a young adult biography because he is probably the United States’ most famous and familiar poet. Yet Frost’s poetry is deceptively difficult, even for adult readers, and is generally misunderstood. Bober’s book does little to repair this problem; in fact, A Restless Spirit perpetuates most of the common misconceptions about Frost and his work.

After he secured an audience and started to gain fame, Frost was a conscious and expert self-promoter, creating the persona of a genial and grandfatherly New England nature poet. This image made him more marketable, but it led people to misread his poetry. Frost’s poetry is not genial, sentimental, or even pastoral, and as an introduction to his poems, Bober’s book is fuzzy and inaccurate, reinforcing the idealized portrait of Frost as an essentially nice man and his poems as essentially pleasant object lessons in how to live a simple life.

As Bober weaves introductions of the poems into the narrative of Frost’s life, she occasionally elucidates, as with the short but evocative lyric “The Pasture.” More often, however, she oversimplifies and even misrepresents, as when she perpetuates the common, simplistic, and woefully inaccurate reading of “The Road Not Taken” as a poem about nonconformity. It would be difficult, maybe impossible, and perhaps unnecessary to introduce young adults to the dark, tragic vision in Frost’s poetry,...

(The entire section is 489 words.)