MAC by John MacLean


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A grim, gripping story of a sexually abused young man. Mac, 15, comes from a stable, happy family, is well-regarded in school both as student and athlete, and considers himself so average that he's completely flamboozled when Jenny, a beautiful new classmate, takes an interest in him. Suddenly, things begin to unravel; he becomes withdrawn and hostile, uninterested in schoolwork, cold to friends and family alike. Inside, he's crying that he's hurt, outside he's snarling at everyone. What happened to him? Readers get plenty of clues, and with the help of time and a sympathetic counsellor, the story eventually comes out: Mac was molested by a doctor during a physical exam, and now he's tom by guilt, fear and self-loathing. His world has turned upside-down. The author communicates Mac's disorientation very well with a choppy writing style that at times skirts the edges of stream-of-consciousness and gives the narrative a feverish, hallucinatory quality. Focus throughout is on the victim; the abuser remains impersonal, offstage and unnamed, his eventual fate never made clear. Describing his experience in detail to a social worker from the DA's office has a cathartic effect on Mac, and afterwards he opens up to Jenny. The two share some warm, even comic moments to signal the end of his self-imposed isolation. Mac's road to recovery could have been rougher--he's fortunate to be surrounded by skilled, caring adults--but his story will reassure readers that the road is there to be walked.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1987
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin