Postcards to Father Abraham

Catherine Lewis, Author, Jane Yeomans, Illustrator Atheneum Books $17.95 (304p) ISBN 978-0-689-82852-2
The 16-year-old heroine of this '60s-era coming-of-age story, the author's first novel for teens, faces loss after loss. As the narrative opens, Meghan lies in a hospital bed, recuperating from having her leg amputated following the detection of cancer. She angrily ruminates about her love of running (she had won a scholarship to a Catholic boarding school); her expulsion from said school; the death of her mother in an accident caused by a drunk driver; her brother, Killian, who has returned from Vietnam shell-shocked. She is furious with her father, an emotionally distant banker who is foreclosing on local farms. Her one solace comes from studying Abraham Lincoln, with whom she identifies not just because she lives in Springfield, Ill., but also because of his physical flaws, his personal tragedies and his high ideals. Writing him postcards, she begins to work through some of her rage. Justified or not, Meghan's wrath is too consuming, unmediated and dark; readers rarely get a glimpse of any other aspect of her personality. The Lincoln motif, on the other hand, feels novelistic and artificial. A pivotal visit from Honest Abe to Meghan's hospital room is unconvincingly surreal, highlighting the book's shortcomings rather than compensating for them. Ages 12-up. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 01/31/2000
Release date: 02/01/2000
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