When the Phone Rang

Harry Mazer, Author
Harry Mazer, Author Scholastic $11.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-590-32167-9
Reviewed on: 10/01/1985
Release date: 10/01/1985
This is a solid novel by an author whose works are almost invariably critical and popular successes. It's also, however, very sad, perhaps too disheartening for wide appeal. Mazer strikes a realistic note at the outset, when Billy Keller tells his sister Lori that the phone call to their Manhattan apartment was a mistake. He throws himself into cleaning up the rooms, denying the report of his parents' death in a plane crash. Later, Billy persuades older brother Kevin to take time off from college and remain with him and Lori, making a family, instead of letting relatives separate them. In time, the situation is beset by troubles, financial and otherwise. Lori hangs out with a tough girl and begins shoplifting. Kevin misses his studies and his girl; quarrels erupt among the three. But they gradually find solutions and Billy pins his hopes on the shared discovery that a family is a state of the heart. He even feels ""normal'' for a moment, although he doubts he will ever be able to trust feelings of security again. It's hard to view the book objectively, to believe that the Kellers accomplish the many, intricate feats that Mazer describes. One would also question that an airline official would telephone news of the parents' fate to a young boy. (12up)
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