De Alcantara, Pedro. Befiddled, A Novel.

Author:Marler, Myrna
Position:Brief Article - Book Review

DE ALCANTARA, Pedro. Befiddled, a novel. Random House, Delacorte. 179p. c2005. 0-385-73265-1. $15.95. J

Poor Becky Cohen, age 13. She's an outsider, and everybody makes fun of her. She's poor. She's plain. Her mother doesn't understand her. She loves to play the violin but nobody knows it because every time she plays in front of her teacher and class at the "Y" (the only class her mother can afford), she blows it. Enter the African American superintendent of her scruffy apartment building. He turns out to be a gifted violin teacher (unlike the tyrant at the "Y"). A reformed alcoholic and former virtuoso, he teaches her everything she needs to know to win the prestigious scholarship at a famous music school. She learns to speak up. She learns the world is not against her. Yet on the eve of the competition, her mother finds the superintendent cutting Becky's hair and screams child...

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