cover image But I'll Be Back Again: An Album

But I'll Be Back Again: An Album

Cynthia Rylant. Orchard Books (NY), $15.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-531-05806-0

In this autobiographical essay, Rylant recounts the formative events of her childhood: the early loss of both her mother and father, who sent her to live with grandparents after their separation; years spent in a small Bible-belt town after her mother returned to reclaim her; her crushes on peers and on a larger-than-life hero, Bobby Kennedy; and, through it all, a determination to ``be someone else,'' which fueled her willingness to try on the mantle of a writer. For all its candor and occasional flashes of humor, Rylant's memoir is a disappointment, long on interpretation and pronouncements and short on vividly rendered scenes that could speak powerfully to readers. Instead, sweeping generalities (``Children do fall in love''; ``Parents get these weird ideas, you know'') are sprinkled throughout; these dilute the force of the stories and strike a false note of camaraderie. Ultimately, little light is shed on the creative process or artistic inspiration. A Richard Jackson Book. Ages 10-12. (Apr.)