Rosemary Wells Katherine Paterson

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Katherine Paterson

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

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I began [Leave Well Enough Alone] laughting with delight at Rosemary Wells's marvelous re-creation of fourteenness—the fervid rejoicing over a mistake not made, the strain of drinking a Coke noiselessly in the presence of an adult one is struggling to impress, furtively removing and disposing of one's ruined stockings, only to have them returned by a smiling porter. And for those of us who grew up pious in the '40s and '50s there is that ever losing battle for goodness—the feverish yielding to the very temptation one has seconds before praised God for the power to overcome.

I began the book laughing. I ended it in goosebumps. In between I had gobbled up red herrings like gum drops.

To say that Wells deceived me right up until the next to the last page is to acknowledge her ability as a writer of suspense, but it is the shimmering threads of humor and human insight with which she has spun her tale that completely entrap the reader.

Katherine Paterson, "The Case of the Curious Babysitter," in Book World—The Washington Post (© 1977, The Washington Post), May 1, 1977, p. E4.