Sarah with an H

Irwin Hadley, Author, Hadley Irwin, Author Margaret K. McElderry Books $16 (0p) ISBN 978-0-689-80949-1
Marti has spent her whole life in LaMond, Iowa; her widowed mother chose to raise her there because it's a ""good town where people are honest and care about each other."" But when a Jewish family moves in, prejudices kindle quickly. Marti and her friends envy Sarah--she's beautiful, gets A pluses, earns a coveted starting spot on the school basketball team, lives in the best house in town and is almost saintly in her tolerance of the girls' hostilities. She is too good to ring true, just as a number of the anti-Semitic characters are too dumb to be believed (""They don't believe in Christmas!"" one girl says. ""They have something called Canoeka or something like that. It's Indian, I think""). Writing as Irwin (So Long at the Fair), the team of Ann Irwin and the late Lee Hadley captures many small-town Iowa enthusiasms, like the passion for girls' basketball or the summer Karnival. But this success is annulled by the number of false notes struck here, from Marti's frequently disingenous narration to overdetermined subplots involving a controversy about developing lakefront property or stolen antique dolls. The worst mistake, however, may be the ambiguous approach to defining prejudice: in this account, it seems to be chiefly crude gestures, epithets and stereotyping, not the subtle and more pervasive casting of groups of individuals as ""different."" Ages 12-up. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/02/1996
Release date: 10/01/1996
Genre: Children's
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