cover image Remember Red Hawk

Remember Red Hawk

Doris Buchanan Smith. Putnam Publishing Group, $14.95 (160pp) ISBN 978-0-399-22443-0

Smith ( Return to Bitter Creek ; Voyages ) tackles the thorny subjects of Alzheimer's disease and prejudice in this heavy-handed novel featuring junior-high computer wiz John Viravek. Last summer, Nanna's absentmindedness seemed harmless and amusing, but now she doesn't always recognize her own children and grandchildren. As John struggles to come to terms with his grandmother's affliction, he is further distressed by his best friend Broderick's flagrant displays of bigotry, including those which target John's dark-skinned nephew and friend, Adam. Tensions rise when Adam's family is threatened by the Ku Klux Klan and Nanna--miraculously recalling her own troubled childhood--takes a stand against violence. The book's controversial issues prove more exciting than the author's moralistic narrative and cardboard characters. Nanna's deterioration is treated rather awkwardly, and although John's pacifism is admirable, at times he appears too virtuous and rational for a 12-year-old beset by numerous conflicts. Ultimately, the only figure who undergoes significant change is Broderick, who in the end shows remorse for his racist acts. Ages 10-14. (May)