Rosa Guy Beryle Banfield - Essay

Beryle Banfield

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

On one level, [Edith Jackson] is a skillfully written account of [a] seventeen-year-old hero's determination to assume full responsibility for her three orphaned sisters, "her family," as soon as she reaches eighteen. But in 187 pages of tight, dramatic writing, Ms. Guy manages to address several critical social issues and to bring into sharp focus those special problems that are encountered by women of varying ages.

There is a devastating indictment of the residential care bureaucracy, referred to in the novel as "The Institution." Exposed are the gross insensitivity to the needs of children, the damaging effect of the constant shunting of children from one foster home to another, and the physical and mental retardation that can result from emotional starvation and physical neglect. The sexuality and sexual problems of women of varying ages and their male relationships are explored with great sensitivity and honesty. Running through the entire book is the theme of the special vulnerability of women and that special strength which enables so many to survive.

It is impossible not to become emotionally involved while reading this book. Ms. Guy deserves high praise for her remarkable achievement.

Beryle Banfield, in her review of "Edith Jackson," in Interracial Books for Children Bulletin (reprinted by permission of Interracial Books for Children Bulletin, 1841 Broadway, New York, N.Y. 10023), Vol. 9, No. 6, 1978, p. 15.