Sandra Scoppetone, Happy Endings are All Alike (Alyson, 1978)
[originally posted 19Jul2001]
I’m not sure what book the New York Times reviewer who called this a “tensely-plotted thriller” was reading, but it sure wasn’t this one. Happy Endings, written before Scoppetone became a mystery vamp of the highest order, is a simple, if somewhat twisted, coming of age tale about high-school romance and all the pain and suffering it entails.
Jaret and Peggy are stuck in the lazy summer before college, in the middle of a romance that’s a badly-kept secret from Jaret’s mother and Peggy’s father (Peggy’s father is a widower; Jaret’s mother is just plain clueless about most everything) and a well-kept secret from the rest of their somewhat conservative town. Well, for a while. Things get nasty when a local boy finds out about the romance and decides that Jaret needs some conversion to heterosexuality.
Scoppetone’s a fine writer, for the most part, and the emotions at play throughout the book are clear and well-done. Most of the book’s characters are complex, solid, and far from annoying. The one exception is Peggy, who constantly uses the word “gazinga” for…well, everything (think back to the Smurfs and their way of speaking). It gets annoying, and it gets there quickly. But if you can overlook that, this one’s worth a look. ** 1/2