Laurie Bowden

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Last Updated on June 7, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 180

Sixteen-year-old Anne [in A Formal Feeling ] arrives home on a vacation from the private school her mother had chosen—her mother who has been dead just over a year. Anne avoids dealing with her life, past and present…. Anne's reactions are understandable: How can everyone act as if everything is...

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Sixteen-year-old Anne [in A Formal Feeling] arrives home on a vacation from the private school her mother had chosen—her mother who has been dead just over a year. Anne avoids dealing with her life, past and present…. Anne's reactions are understandable: How can everyone act as if everything is all right? How could Dad marry again so soon, and to someone who is so different from Mom: Stepmother Dory's a nonintellectual who leaves dirty dishes in the sink and neglects the rose garden. Anne pursues a state of numbness, which she achieves by running, perhaps to avoid the pain of remembering the truth about her mother: that her mother's high expectations and standards were perhaps not worth living up to. A physical injury (sprained ankle) produces a catharsis through which Anne answers her questions, allowing her to let go and finally say goodbye to her mother. The sensitivity and straightforwardness in dealing with an often difficult subject makes this an outstanding book.

Laurie Bowden, in a review of "A Formal Feeling," in School Library Journal, Vol. 29, No. 2, October, 1982, p. 163.

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