Sandra Scoppettone The Booklist - Essay

The Booklist

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[Trying Hard to Hear You focuses on the summer of '73, which for] narrator Camilla Crawford, a 16-year-old aspiring actress, revolves around the Youth On Stage production in which her whole crowd participates…. During the course of rehearsals Cam falls for Phil Chrystie, who seems to reciprocate her feelings but puzzles her by his inordinate interest in her best friend Jeff Grathwohl. When Phil and Jeff are caught kissing during a Fourth of July party everyone turns on them making them a continuing butt of cruel jokes…. Jeff is able to cope, but the pressure overwhelms Phil, who is baited into dating a girl, drinks too much, and is killed with her in an automobile crash. In trying to comfort Jeff, Cam comes to realize what has been done to the boys, while she and most of her friends gain an understanding and greater acceptance of homosexuality. Plot threads are credibly interwoven, adult as well as teenage characters are well developed and interrelated, dialog is natural, and the author's thesis is skillfully though obviously projected in a teenage story of unusual depth for mature readers.

A review of "Trying Hard to Hear You," in The Booklist (reprinted by permission of the American Library Association; copyright © 1974 by the American Library Association), Vol. 71, No. 6, November 15, 1974, p. 340.