Sandra Scoppettone Kirkus Reviews - Essay

Kirkus Reviews

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

No doubt Camilla Crawford's "terrifically" trendy, affectedly blase monologue [in Trying Hard to Hear You] is intentionally slanted to reveal a certain cliquish pseudo-sophistication. Still, these Long Island teen-agers, whose lives revolve around a little theater production of Anything Goes, may turn readers off long before Cam's problems with her buddy Jeff and new boyfriend Phil coalesce around the discovery that the two boys are homosexual lovers. Despite the group's much-flaunted worldliness, the revelation proves shattering and leads to the boys' persecution by cruel teasing, an attempted tar and feathering, and eventually the death in an auto accident of Phil and the girl who had offered to help him "prove" himself. Though the tragic outcome may seem overblown, it is logical in the context of the group's well-established pattern of self-dramatization and acting out. The message about homosexuality is well handled both factually … and in terms of kids' emotional reactions, which in Camilla's case don't keep pace with her growing intellectual acceptance of the situation. One can't help suspecting that other areas of Cam's snobbish immaturity … are being exploited. But for all the soap-operations, the approach to homosexuality is honest and substantial enough to justify the discussion it will no doubt generate.

A review of "Trying Hard to Hear You," in Kirkus Reviews (copyright © 1974 The Kirkus Service, Inc.), Vol. XLII, No. 20, October 15, 1974, p. 1110.