COMING HOME TO A PLACE YOU'VE NEVER BEEN BEFORE by Hanna & Bruce Clements

COMING HOME TO A PLACE YOU'VE NEVER BEEN BEFORE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The Clements visited Perception House, a Synanon-style residence in Willimantic, Connecticut, but their presence is nowhere visible in this documentary of twenty-four hours in the lives of its ten young members. We just have to take it on faith that their internalized sketches of the kids' states of mind are objective. Just as we are asked to accept their implicitly approving view of the house routine, which requires a coordinator and an ""expediter"" to keep everyone constantly busy and which is punctuated by ritualized confrontations known variously as pull-ups, haircuts, attitudes and Group. Many of the young people have a strong sense of loyalty to the house and, at the very least, its regimen must be more helpful than a prison term. But based on the ""one year later"" follow-up in the introduction, the house's record isn't overwhelmingly successful. And one can't help wondering whether the rigid pecking order is for the good of everyone. This particular day ends with Andy, who's done a poor job as expediter, surviving a particularly grueling attack on him in group, but two other boys who have been disciplined (one by wearing a signboard that says, ""I act like an ape"") run away the same night and presumably, are never found. By failing to address themselves to these broader questions--or to give any background at all on the underlying philosophy of the House--the authors have shortchanged us. On the other hand, they treat the individuals with what would be called here ""responsible concern"" and have captured the tenor of the dally operations so well that one can enter into the emotionally charged scene and form some ""attitudes"" too.

Pub Date: Nov. 7th, 1975
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux