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Scott Berry, Raoul Dean, and Joseph Hamilton, three teenage runaways and vandals sent to Bleda Reformatory, come face to face with violence when one of the three is murdered and the surviving two seek the killer
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YA Galgut's disturbing novel of youths on their own, written when he was 17, rivals the Golding's Lord of the Flies in story, intensity and imagination. Three 15-year-old friends, Scott, Raoul and Joseph, are sent to reform school for the same crime. Bleda Reformatory has no bars on its windows, no fences, one 5:30 vp.m. roll call. All of the other boys are images of gentility, for Mr. Hall, "the Principal," returns only gentlemen to society. That preeminent conclusion ends with Scott, Joseph and Raoul. Joseph is mysteriously killed the first day; that night Raoul is raped. Too ashamed to tell anyone, he is pushed mentally towards amoral and animalistic reasoning. Finally, he sublimely pressures the residents to perpetrate criminal acts (arson, rape, pet killing), causing so much havoc that Mr. Hall is chased from his model school in fear for his life. While Golding's boys are reunited with society, Galgut's two "friends" are still together in reform school, although it is not made clear whether they are to remain together; that decision is up to Raoul. A powerful story of inner pain and peer/environmental pressures. Faye Powell, PGCMLS, Md.
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