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Children's LiteratureJeff Greene is 7 years old when he is abandoned by his mother and left in the care of his unapproachable, reserved father, whom he calls Professor. He adjusts to a series of male student caregivers ("women are too unreliable," says his father) until he is-too soon-left mostly to care for himself. When his mother unexpectedly re-enters his life the summer before his twelfth birthday, he convinces himself that her warmth and breezy nature is a substitute for love and nurturing. When he returns to visit his mother the following summer, he is able to see both his mother's true selfishness, and his father's steadfast love. From the first heart-wrenching page through the end of Part I, the story is told with an unflinching narrative that explores the heartache of a child too eager to please out of fear that he will be abandoned. His growing sense of security-in spite of disappointment-is a joy to follow. Part II, in which Jeff and his father build a life and a community together, is engaging. We learn of Jeff's relationship with Dicey Tillerman, a young girl who is the subject of Voigt's other books in the series. Perhaps because Part II attempts to weave Jeff's story with the previous two books, the flow of the narrative slows and, at times, confuses. However, the strength of the characters and the honest tone of the story are ultimately compelling. 2003 (orig. 1983), Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster, Ages 12 up.
— Barbara Allen Burke