by Annie Roe Carr
On the downside, this book has an impossibly noble heroine (at one point she is receives recognition for heroism displayed in an earlier book), two inept villains (one adult, criminal, and, incidentally, black; the other the usual jealous female teenager), and a plot rich in coincidence. I just can't believe that in a city the size of Chicago, a teenager could locate two other teenage runaways not even personally known to her. In fact, I don't believe the runaways would have gone that long without meeting a sad fate, even in 1916.
On the other hand, there are some really neat characters and incidents here. I was very taken with the street waif, Inez. The measures taken by concerned parents to ensure that their offspring wouldn't see anything offensive at the movies (remember, this is 1916) intrigued me. And much of the book is an exploration of personal versus institutional charity, with the strengths and weaknesses of each displayed. Fifty percent ain't bad. I give it a C+.
© 1996 Jo Anne Fatherly
This review first appeared in The Whispered Watchword, the newsletter of The Phantom Friends