It Ain't Always Easy

Kathleen Karr, Author Farrar Straus Giroux $14.95 (228p) ISBN 978-0-374-33645-5
Orphaned Jack, 11, and his stalwart companion, runaway Mandy, 8, roam the streets of New York City in 1882 in search of a home. First they camp in a vacant house. The Children's Aid Society takes them in, but they wind up as unwelcome boarders with an over-populous family in Jersey City. Jack painfully recounts his and Mandy's struggle both to stay together and to survive. They travel on foot to New Hope, Pa. only to confront cruelty and hunger once again. Sheer desperation spurs Jack, and his actions finally enable the two to find a home and someone to care for them. Authentic period details create a strong sense of time and place in this heartrending story. At times dense and slow-paced, the narrative is nonetheless powerful, and the spirit and perseverance of the protagonists are uplifting. Though the last page borders on the maudlin, the reader will feel the two orphans deserve a happy ending. Ages 10-up. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/31/1990
Release date: 11/01/1990
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