Rosa Guy Zena Sutherland - Essay

Zena Sutherland

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[In Edith Jackson] Edith, who appeared in the author's The Friends, is now seventeen; although she and her three younger sisters live with a foster mother, it is Edith who feels responsible for the others, who vows that when she is of age she will work and provide a home for them…. [When the story ends] what is left unsaid (and is clear) is that Edith has admitted to herself that the encouragement Mrs. Bates has offered, and her help, will be accepted. Proud and strong, Edith had been insisting on getting a job and holding the family together—which meant accepting the role of mother to her sisters—and now she can admit that she can change her life if she will focus on her own needs. The characterization is excellent, the writing style smooth, and the depiction of an adolescent torn between her need for independence and achievement and her feeling of responsibility (which has pushed her into protecting the sisters who don't want protection) strong and perceptive. (pp. 117-18)

Zena Sutherland, in her review of "Edith Jackson," in Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (reprinted by permission of The University of Chicago Press; © 1979 by The University of Chicago), Vol. 32, No. 7, March, 1979, pp. 116-17.