Sandra Scoppettone Kate Waters - Essay

Kate Waters

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Such Nice People covers a five-day period during which 17-year-old Tom, second child and first son of a family who collectively have every problem in vogue in YA literature, carries out instructions from SOLA, a phosphorescent ruler, to kill his family with the exception of older sister Kit who is to be Duchess in the new order…. Kit, a doctoral candidate in psychology, lives away from home but is due to arrive for the holidays. She is in therapy to work through the residue of various love affairs. Sara, a younger sister, is fat. Steven and Max, Tom's young brothers, follow him one evening to a shed and see his solitary sexual writhings that involve his penis and a plunger. They hear him speak to the air in a voice that is not his. On the appointed day. Tom takes a gun from close family friends and calmly butchers one and shoots the other. He cleans up and gaily returns home where he stabs his father repeatedly. His mother [Anne] and Steven are next. Max has slipped out a window … and gone to the neighbors for help. Anne's lover senses that something is wrong because the phone is out of order, picks up his gun and drives to the house where, finding everyone dead, he shoots and kills Tom. Kit, delayed by a flat tire, finds little Max on the side of the road. A week later, Anne's lover is in the hospital in deep shock. Max has gone to live with cousins. Kit thinks, "I'll never be the same, but God Almighty, I'm alive. For a moment she felt guilty. And then she didn't." Assuming that Scoppettone's purpose is to describe the child victim of parental emotional abuse,… she has failed. Her latest has no place in YA collections.

Kate Waters, in her review of "Such Nice People," in School Library Journal (reprinted from the May, 1980 issue of School Library Journal, published by R. R. Bowker Co./A Xerox Corporation; copyright © 1980), Vol. 26, No. 9, May, 1980, p. 92.