Sue Ellen Bridgers Kate M. Flanagan - Essay

Kate M. Flanagan

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[As portrayed in Sue Ellen Bridgers's novel All Together Now, the] summer twelve-year-old Casey Flanagan spends at her grandparents'—while her mother is working and her father is fighting in the Korean War—is a time of growing self-awareness. A shy, sensitive girl, she is at first apprehensive about the arrangement but cheers up she meets Dwayne Pickens—a retarded man who was once a boyhood friend of her father's. Dwayne dislikes girls, but he easily mistakes Casey, with her short hair and jeans, for a boy. Anxious to have him as a friend, the girl convinces her family to keep her secret, and though she sometimes feels guilty about deceiving Dwayne, the two become inseparable. The narrative winds through a summer of family dinners, fishing trips, and outings to the track where Uncle Taylor races stock cars. Casey … is enfolded into the loving circle of family and friends, and in the course of the summer her refreshingly innocent personality touches them all. The thoughts and feelings of each character are revealed through shifting viewpoints as each in his own time learns that love must be based on truth and acceptance…. The characters—from good-natured, honest Dwayne to bumbling Hazard Whittaker—are remarkably individualized. The book is exceptional not only for its superb writing and skillful portrayal of human relationships but for its depiction of a small southern town, where everyone knows everyone and neighbors care enough to rally in times of trouble. (pp. 197-98)

Kate M. Flanagan, in her review of "All Together Now," in The Horn Book Magazine (copyright © 1979 by The Horn Book, Inc., Boston), Vol. LV, No. 2, April, 1979, pp. 197-98.