On My Bookshelf

The Member of the Wedding, by Carson McCullers is a valuable read for adolescents, as well as parents and professionals who deal with teens. Frankie, the 12- year-old protagonist, is restless in a way only teens can be restless. They have no words for the emotions that make them pace, lash out, and act inappropriately. Nor do they have words for the torrent of new feelings.

Frankie has an intense need to belong, and she decides she belongs with her brother and his betrothed. She is convinced she will be a third principal person in their wedding, on their honeymoon, and in their new life.  She tells everyone she meets in her little Georgia town about her important place in her brother’s life. Her delusion lasts until after the wedding when her father pulls her, screaming, from the car door as her brother drives off with his bride. The story does not leave Frankie in her temporary insanity. School begins. She makes friends, develops new interests, and becomes a normal teenager.

Parents and educators who are not afraid to be blunt refer to dramatic adolescent behavior as “temporary insanity.” Through the fictional Frankie, readers can understand that teens may act strangely at times, but it is generally just a phase that passes leaving little or no lasting damage.




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