Sunday, February 1, 2009

High Note, Low Note
Anne Emery
1954, The Westminster Press

Jean Burnaby enters her senior year of high school and meets the fascinating, troublesome Kim Ballard. Although Jean has other concerns - finding an affordable piano to continue her training on and trying to tell boyfriend Jeff Sutton that she's not in love with him - Jean's recurring problem becomes trying to decide whether Kim's friendship is worth having.

Kim met her eyes and smiled. She was strikingly attractive, with short curly chestnut hair, hazel eyes, a pert nose. She was friendly, chic, self-assured. And a deep, audacious dimple made her smile daring and challenging, as if she were saying "So you think I can't do it?" A tantalizing, daring, gay assurance curved her wide mouth irresistibly and sparkled wickedly in her eyes. Jean had a conviction that knowing Kim would be a dramatic adventure.

Kim, the daughter of a famous foreign correspondent, and Jean, daughter of a college professor, click. But Jean's parents disapprove as it becomes clear that Kim, for all her endearing ways, is a flibbertygibbet. She has no respect or awareness of the rules that govern Jean's existence, and the moment that truly puts their friendship to the crisis is when Kim indifferently quits the orchestra that she's led effortlessly and with great talent. To Jean, finally, the adventure isn't worth the price of chronic lateness, lies, disappointments and carelessness.

In other areas, Jean is the careless one. She is plagued by Jeff's desire for a pair of socks; these odd, homely hand-knitted socks are the Big Thing being given by girls to their guys this season, and Jeff and Jean both instinctively know what her making - or not making - them for him would mean. The difference as Emery draws it is one of knowledge. Jean frets over her reluctance to make the socks because she knows she owes her boyfriend either the token or the breakup. Kim blithely breaks social committments, ignoring even the fact they exist.

Kim's parents are, with the exception of worrying about her infatuation with a young actor, strikingly careless with their flighty daughter. Jean's are old-fashioned to some extent, but Jean's painted as being almost preternaturally patient. The one time she really flares up, she quickly accepts her dad's joking comment on her anger with a philosophic calm that most people don't reach until they're thirty or more.

Oh, well, she thought, it's just as comfortable not to stay mad - especially when you can't win.

Jean's slow disenchantment with Kim is complicated by her feelings of responsibility toward her wayward pal. Her loyalty is her best feature, and it inevitably gets her into trouble - particularly when Kim sees nothing wrong in letting her take the blame for something.

Other Books by Author
Dinny Gordon Series:
Dinny Gordon, Freshman
Dinny Gordon, Sophomore
Dinny Gordon, Junior
Dinny Gordon, Senior
Senior Year
Going Steady
Sorority Girl
High Note Low Note
Campus Melody
County Fair
Hickory Hill
Sweet Sixteen
First Love True Love
First Orchid for Pat
First Love Farewell
The Popular Crowd
The Losing Game
Scarlet Royal
Vagabond Summer
That Archer Girl
Married on Wednesday
A Dream to Touch
Bright Horizons
Mountain Laurel
Jennie Lee, Patriot
American Friend: Herbert Hoover
Mystery of the Opal Ring
Danger in a Smiling Mask
Carey's Fortune
The Sky Is Falling
Free Not to Love
A Spy in Old Philadelphia
A Spy in Old Detroit
A Spy in Old New Orleans
A Spy in Old West Point

About the Author
Some of Emery's books are being reprinted by Image Cascade Publishing

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