WE ARE ALL GUILTY by Kingsley Amis

WE ARE ALL GUILTY

Age Range: 12 - 16
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KIRKUS REVIEW

Like some other established adult authors, Amis (Lucky Jim; The Old Devils, Booker Prize, 1986) seems to imagine that his expertise qualifies him to write for young people; unfortunately, he has come up here with a simplistic, condescending book. Clive, a working-class punk, is in serious trouble after breaking into a warehouse: a confrontation with the night watchman has resulted in the man's disabling injury. Almost everyone concerned--Clive's mother, his social worker, a hip young vicar, even his angry, sanctimonious new stepfather and the victim--conspire to explain, forgive, and blame anyone but Clive. Only the gruff police sergeant, who evidently speaks for the author, opines that Clive deserves to be punished. There's a nugget of truth here: as Clive senses, the misplaced sympathy does deprive him of the dignity of taking responsibility for his own actions. But Amis seems as oblivious to the real roots of Clive's antisocial behavior as his adult characters are; he even gives Clive the (unlikely) option of easily finding a job, and depicts him as bored with the girls he hangs out with. It all smells of the establishment believing that the lower classes would be all right if they'd just shape up. For a far more perceptive look at Britain's underclass, try Gillian Cross's Wolf (1991); unlike Amis's book, it has vibrantly individual characters and a compelling plot. (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1992
ISBN: 0140374760
Page count: 93pp
Publisher: Viking
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 1992




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