(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

The Saturdays is a cheerful and upbeat novel that provides happy endings and positive solutions while resorting to neither a condescending tone nor unrealistic plot contrivances to manipulate its action. Enright offers incredible optimism in the face of troubled times, and the financial and emotional uncertainty of the war years depicted in the novel can transfer to a multitude of other eras and situations to which young readers will be able to relate. The author depicts the angst, crises, and issues appropriate to her story, but she provides resolution time and time again. Her message is straightforward and undeviating: Bad things happen, but there is always a certain stability upon which one may rely.

In Enright’s world, stability is largely found in the family. The Melendys are loving and devoted to one another. The vacant spot in the familial structure is rapidly filled by the remaining members; the Melendys have no mother, so Cuffy has assumed the role of family matriarch, and all the older siblings act as mother to the young Oliver. Cuffy’s and Father’s reactions to any given situation are totally and refreshingly predictable. Furnaceman Willy Sloper will have a position in the family’s household even after they acquire a maintenance-free furnace. Similarly, new extensions of the family are readily absorbed into the current structure, as is the case with Isaac, the lost dog that Rush adopts, and with Mrs. Oliphant, who proves her...

(The entire section is 533 words.)