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My Love for One by Laura Cooper Rendina
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My Love for One

by Laura Cooper Rendina

Other authors: Ruth King (Illustrator)

Series: Debbie Jones (4)

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Recently added byMarieLeighton, AbigailAdams26

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Debbie Jones - whose story began in Roommates, and then continued in the eponymous Debbie Jones, both of which focused on her experiences at the Pine Ridge School for Girls; before progressing through a Summer for Two, which detailed her time spent on Cape Cod, the season before her senior year - confronts her post-high school life in this fourth and final installment of Laura Cooper Rendina's series of teen novels, published from 1948 through 1955. Still reeling from the tragic and utterly unexpected death of mother and wife earlier that spring, the Jones family finds itself fraying at the edges in My Love for One, with older siblings Elspeth and Phil both married and moved away, Mr. Jones quiet and withdrawn, younger sister Polly determined to be a martyr to grief, and younger brother Jimmie needing lots of love and attention. As for Debbie herself, she finds that her efforts at home-making, for her father and younger siblings, are far from a success, and that her first job, out in the big world, doesn't lead her in quite the direction she had hoped to go...

Like Summer for Two, I can't say that I was particularly impressed with My Love for One, although I am certainly happy to have finished out the 'Debbie Jones' series - I try to curb the impulse, but there's no denying that I can be a bit of a completist - and did find it rather interesting. The depiction of the garment factory where Debbie finds work as an 'undercover agent' seemed hopelessly idealized to me - color me cynical, but were factory owners really hiring women to ferret out all the minor ways in which their employees might be unhappy, on the job? - and her relationship with Ned Smith, factory-office manager, rather unconvincing. I usually abhor the "team this" or "team that" approach to young adult literature, but somehow I expected that she would end up with long-time friend and neighbor, Peter, a result I would have found far more believable and satisfying. As it was, the romance with Ned felt forced, and almost like an afterthought. I also found the entire sub-plot involving family friend and general hired man Gus, in which he departs Massachusetts to become a truck driver in the west, in order to spare Polly the degradation of becoming too enamored with somebody 'like him' distastefully classist, even though (ironically), I think Rendina way trying to be broad-minded, in her way.

Very much a product of their time, these Debbie Jones books have been interesting to read (particularly the first two, given my newfound interest in the school story genre), but I don't know to whom I would recommend them. They're a little too dated for contemporary young readers, so probably to adult readers with an interest in vintage children's fare - particularly children's and teen novels from the 1940s and 1950s. 'Malt Shop Novels,' I think some people call them...? ( )
  AbigailAdams26 | Mar 31, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Rendina, Laura Cooperprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
King, RuthIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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Debbie's family faces its most shattering experience. Can it hold together after the loss of the beloved person around whom it revolved? Its chief bond has always been strong affection. Will family ties hold against the pull of individual wants in time of crisis?
Debbie's older sister and brother have already broken away to start their own families, continuing the cycle of life that a family stands for. Debbie's youngest brother, Jimmie, has simple wants still, if love and protections are ever simple to achieve. Fifteen-year-old Polly is attracted to martyrdom, and also to Gus, who helps with the garden. Father is silently alone.
And Debbie - Debbie the blond dreamer, Debbie the debonair, impetuous romancer - Debbie at eighteen fails at homemaking. She wants to get a job, go to college, be a writer and, suddenly, she wants the man she loves.
The tangle of conflicting wants seems only to grow worse, but the solution is there, bound up in the real meaning of Debbie's wondering discovery, "There are different kinds of love." (from the dust-jacket)
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