Francine Prose
School has become a prison.No one knows why.There's no way to stop it.


Reviewed: 2017-08-29
Book Description School has become a prison. No one knows why. There's no way to stop it. Following a Columbine-like massacre at a nearby school, the students at Central High find their world turned upside down. The arrival of a "grief counselor" brings a new era of repression--no cell phones, no reading Catcher in the Rye, no hanging out at the mall. Even worse, students guilty of breaking the rules have begun to disappear--supposedly to a kind of detention camp called Operation Turnaround. Nobody ever comes back. Esteemed adult author Prose wants to make a political statement about the gradual process by which we lose personal freedom, but she runs into trouble. Caught somewhere between allegory, dystopian fantasy, and YA problem novel, her book never finds a home for itself. There are moments of real terror (the finale feels like Hitchcock's The Birds), but many of the best fantasy elements--brainwashing the kids' parents with e-mail--seem patently ridiculous in a realistic context. Yet, there is considerable appeal: the suspense builds effectively, and the archetypal conflict--good-hearted kids versus an evil principal--is always a crowd pleaser.
Reviewed: 2016-06-24
This book takes a look at a school after a shooting occurred at a high school in a nearby town, and focuses on the changes that are instituted by the school administrators in name of security.

The story is told from the point of view of a teenager, Tom, who witnesses steadily increasing paranoia causing rapidly diminishing privileges and escalating punishment, which started after a new "grief counselor" is hired by the school.

Dress codes, backpack searches and random drug tests soon expand into mind-controlling daily assemblies, book censorship, and camps for "behavior" problems.

The book gets a little strange about mid-way through, and reminded me a little of "Invasion of the Body Snatchers", particularly with the way some of the parents completely check-out and let the school run their family's lives, but overall, it is a good book.

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