A World Like Yhis

Helen Benedict, Author Dutton Books $17.95 (194p) ISBN 978-0-525-24831-6
This first novel offers an exceptionally well-written story of a young woman in despair. The time is 1975; the place, Great Britain. Brandy is a teenager from the streets of Brighton whose bad behavior has landed her in Borstal, a notorious lockup for juvenile offenders. There she captivates a lesbian guard, refashions herself as a tough cookie and not only survives but thrives in the somber prison atmosphere. Back in the real world, however, Brandy is buffeted by one disappointment and failure after another. Her only support comes from her loyal sister and young nephew Bobby, whose love for her is unequivocal, even after she risks his safety. Just when Brandy seems to be putting her life back together, the past catches up with her, and she appears doomed by the Borstal system. Benedict has a sure talent for dialogue and creates settings that ring true. But the novel's unsympathetic characters and unrelieved wretchedness dampen its appeal. In the tradition of Hubert Selby's Last Exit to Brooklyn , Benedict damns the society that has spawned such bleakness, and offers the reader no solace. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 01/30/1990
Release date: 02/01/1990
Genre: Fiction
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