Zoa (Morin) Sherburne Phyllis Cohen - Essay

Phyllis Cohen

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Mrs. Sherburne's junior romances have often dealt with complex problems—alcoholism in the family, mental illness, a death in the family, etc. [In Too Bad about the Haines Girl] she tackles the increasingly common problem of the teen-age unwed mother, and it is by far her best book. There have been so many teen-age stories on this theme lately, that it's almost become a cliche rather than the daring subject it was only fifteen years ago. Of all that I've read, though, Too Bad about the Haines Girl comes closest to an honest discussion of the whole problem….

The whole book treats of Lindy's growing panic, acceptance of the situation, and her inability to tell her parents. The story ends with her parents learning about it. But nothing is solved, nothing is settled. There are too many factors involved for a simple solution. Although Jeff and Lindy have planned marriage, marriage now would be terrible for both…. And giving the baby up for adoption is just too final and terrible to think about…. No doubt the problem will be solved, but the story is a sad one. Saddest of all is Lindy's loss of her youth. She is pretty, talented, and has just been chosen the school Valentine Queen. None of the dances, parties, contests, fun of the last year of high school is for her, and all the plans she made for college are finished. The last paragraph of the book shows what a long way Lindy has come. "It was the familiar tune that she and Jeff had dubbed their song—the same recording that they had danced to so many times last year, when they were young."

This book is not a sermon. The author does not discuss the moral aspects at all. She has presented a common situation and one normal, healthy girl's reactions…. The author is not trying to teach anything. Lindy and Jeff are two good kids who messed up their lives, but they are not horrid examples. Their story will not prevent a single girl from messing up her life, but it will give her some hours of reading entertainment and an understanding of how this happens to the nicest, happiest kids.

Phyllis Cohen, in a review of "Too Bad about the Haines Girl," in Young Readers Review, Vol. III, No. 9, May, 1967, p. 14.