Sue Ellen Bridgers Dana G. Clinton - Essay

Dana G. Clinton

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

The title of Sue Ellen Bridgers' newest novel, "All Together Now" is the final touch of perfection to an exceptional story…. It sets in motion the musical strains of emotion and memory which harmonize our lives just as they do this novel of a group of people in a small North Carolina town who grow together during a summer in the 1950s. Long after the story ends, the haunting force of harmony stays with the reader and attests to the power of the tale and the mastery of its teller.

Our major interest is in Casey, a tomboyish, curious and sensitive youngster sent to spend her 12th summer with her grandparents. Throughout the story we see Casey grappling with problems old and new….

The panoply of characters which grow around Casey fills out the tale and creates a world vibrant with the love and hope necessary to balance out the pains of living….

It is the delicacy with which Bridgers weaves together the various strains of her story that creates the beauty of the book. There are no caricatures among the people and nothing artificial in the telling…. [The] whole is a smooth rendition of emotions captured by just the right phrase or revealed through a single important observation. The comingling of love at all levels of life stands out as the lesson Casey learns. "These shadowy forms that she knew held such a tenacious grip on her 12th summer." "All Together Now" is the deceivingly effortless writing of an artist at work.

Dana G. Clinton, "Summer Witness to Forces of Love" (reprinted by permission of the author), in The Christian Science Monitor, May 14, 1979, p. B6.