Risk and Roses

Jan Slepian, Author Philomel Books $14.95 (175p) ISBN 978-0-399-22219-1
In the 1948 Bronx neighborhood depicted here, characters are vessels of pain: 11-year-old Skip, the heroine whose family has just moved in, worries that her ``slow'' sister, Angela, will scare off potential new friends; their mother, unable to face her daughter's handicap, idealizes Angela; Kaminsky, across the street, mourns relatives ``all gone to the Nazi ovens''; and although motherless Jean, leader of the local girls, tells Skip how her grown brothers shower her with presents, she always wears the same raggedy dress. With such a tangle of complicated circumstances, it's not surprising that Slepian's ( The Broccoli Tapes ) characters never achieve fullness or authenticity. Jean, whose charisma is not as immediately clear to readers as it is to Skip, forms a ``dare club'' and goads her friends into frightening, unwholesome missions (Skip's is to shoplift three red items from a dimestore). Like much of the novel, the climactic moment, in which Skip is forced to choose between loyalty to Angela and friendship with Jean, and its aftermath are predictable, superficial treatments of serious issues. ( Sept. )
Reviewed on: 08/29/1990
Release date: 09/01/1990
Paperback - 978-0-590-45361-5
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