Surprised at the mediocre ratings...almost all of Blume's teenager novels deal with realistic situations in a competent manner, which is one of many reasons why her books shine. Here it's the painful subject of divorce. Not a long book but by the time it's over you you feel like you're emotionally ready for it to be done.
Blume touches on many typical divorce-related emotions and frustrations. The father leaves at the beginning after an unneeded fight between him and the mother, the mom is a hysterical wreck some of the time and optimistic for her future in other scenes, the father shows regret and loss at not being around his children but makes it clear he doesn't care about the marriage any longer, and there are three children at different ages expressing their angst in various ways.
As the main character, Karen is sweet as she's dealing with her tween ages and trying to get her parents back together through plotting and praying. Her older brother is rebellious and silent until he explodes. The little girl and sister is especially tragic in the way she can't understand things fully. Blume keeps it not just about divorce as life goes on for the protagonist with dances and boys, her friends trying to relate but unable to, seeing the situation from the point of view from the mother's friends and not liking how her siblings are resolving things.
I was irritated by something, though --- what is with the small cliffhanger at the end? Details like that are what drive me batty. And, even though I know it's a divorce and Blume is wanting the reader to be neutral here on both parents being at fault, I just don't think I can agree with the possibility of the change at the end, seems selfish to the father on the mother's fault and bad for the children. It seems once she's divorced she wants to start a new life - understandable - but as a mother for life she can never just think about herself again.
Overall it's a well-written story, even if it's not an enjoyable experience. I felt highly for all three of the children, especially Jeff and of course Karen. I thought Blume made it realistic without unnecessary drama. There were enough problems arising to keep it interesting, and enough slow spurts to keep it introspective.
“Suppose there aren't any more A + days once you get to be twelve? Wouldn't that be something! To spend the rest of your life looking for an A + day and not finding it.”