THE BREAKWATER by George Mandel
Kirkus Star


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The longest merry-go-round ride in the world is the heritage not of the casual visitor to Coney Island, but to the regular residents of that celebrated amusement park. Here, in a second novel by the author of Flee the Angry Strangers, is the story of those residents, particularly of Zale Rakusin as he fights during the depression years to find integrity and to cleanse the guilt he projects on a bewildered mother and frustrated younger sister. Zale's early contact with sex is raw and degrading. And in the kaleidescope of neighborhood happenings it becomes confused in his mind with his mother's pitiful attempt to find love with her devoted brother-in-law. Shocked, the sensitive boy yields early to an obsession of purity, an obsession which leads him from one act of violence to another, which pushes his sister into the inverted world of lesbianism, which breaks the spirit of his sweetheart, leads to the death of a friend, and finally after a sequence of sustained violence leads to Zale's death on the very beach which spawned his torment. Here is a story of an emotional Calvary, of spiritual confusion, of singular good and applling error. George Mandel writes with vigor and compassion. By means of superlative control he evokes an atmosphere of momentous disorder, and with love he presents an unforgettable portrait of hate and corrosion. A fully rounded and serious book, The Breakwater, despite its sordid ingredients, achieves a note of high moral and emotional seriousness. A book which compels the reader.

Pub Date: June 27th, 1960
Publisher: Holt