A lesbian romance takes center stage as a high school mounts a production of The Crucible in this sensitive if not altogether convincing drama. Jan begins her senior year with her confidence primed from years of starring roles and a stint in summer stock; she is stunned when a new girl, Kerry, gets the lead in the play and she herself is made the assistant to Mrs. Nicholson, the drama teacher. Her anger and jealousy evaporate quickly as she and Kerry get to know each other and discover a powerful mutual attraction. And when Mrs. Nicholson withdraws due to grave illness, Jan realizes the teacher has been preparing her to step in as director. Trouble arises in the form of Kent, the male lead, who is unaccountably homophobic and who appropriates the anti-witch rhetoric of Crucible characters to start a campaign against Jan and Kerry. Garden's descriptions of teenagers confronting their gay sexuality are just as affecting and candid here as in her Annie on My Mind, but the book as a whole is less successful. The author takes shortcuts in characterizing the supporting cast, rendering them as fairly predictable types rather than individuals: the faithful friend, the quaint maiden aunt, the flamboyant retired actress. Kent in particular is underdeveloped; as a result, parallels between the hysterical witch-hunting of the play and Kent's anti-gay malice seem programmatic rather than provocative. Ages 12-up. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/02/1996 Release date: 10/01/1996 Genre: Children's
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