Sandra Scoppettone KAREN McGINLEY - Essay


(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

The Late Great Me is the depressingly impressive story of Geri Peters, one of the half-million teenage alcoholics in this country. Although [Geri] is a fictional character, Ms. Scoppettone acknowledges that much of herself is to be found in her.

This is the story of Geri's descent to the hell of alcoholism after she first tasted wine in her junior year of high school. At fifteen Geri considered herself a freak at Walt Whitman High because she was not a part of any group, "the Straights," "the Jocks," "the Greasers," or the "Juicers," i.e., the drinkers. Then a new student, handsome David Townsend, befriends her and together they join the Juicers. As Geri and Dave sink more deeply into the world of alcohol, their lives become blurred trying to hide their alcohol and believing they will be able to stop drinking at any time.

While presenting a vivid picture of a teenager's problems, Ms. Scoppettone also studies hangups of the parents and their cohorts, such as those of Geri's mother, who was continuously playing songs of the Fifties and fantasizing about her past while refusing to recognize her daughter's expanding problems.

The Late Great Me is a book which will make us all more aware of a problem that is growing around us. It will help us to grow in our own awareness and understanding.

Karen McGinley, in her review of "The Late Great Me," in Best Sellers (copyright © 1976 Helen Dwight Reid Educational Foundation), Vol. 36, No. 2, May, 1976, p. 40.