One child’s confusing and abusive life

In the novel by Eleanor Wasserberg Foxlowe is an old house, from the description it seems similar to a manor house. Green lives there with some adults and some children in a commune. The adults take drugs and make items for sale. Occasionally one of them will leave and those remaining can never use their name again. Green wants to travel with the adults on their trips to the outside world but she is never permitted so her whole life is defined by the views and attitudes of those who should be caring for her. But there are divisions within and the children become used in adult arguments and abused by those who like to exercise power.

This book is written totally from Green’s point of view and it never tells you anything that Green can’t see or understand. This makes it very atmospheric and quite creepy but unfortunately it limits the knowledge of the reader. We are aware that things are not right but because Green doesn’t know fully what is going on we have to put the facts together from hints and guesses and I didn’t think there was enough information for me to grasp the whole story – I remained confused about a lot of things even at the end of the book.

Some of this book is very engaging, especially Green’s inability to cope with the outside world when she can no longer remain there, the effects of her lack of education and the long-term consequences. It is clever how the author shows us what amounts to child abuse and neglect through the victim’s eyes and gives us some understanding why she accepts it and thinks that it is normal and is then prepared to do the same to another child. I did understand why Green accepted what was going on but couldn’t get a full enough picture of the motives of the adults to understand why they didn’t take some action – their belief system remained woolly to me.

I found this book unsatisfying because I didn’t ever really get a full picture of what had happened except filtered through Green’s immature understanding. I expect that the author wrote the book deliberately this way but it didn’t work for me.

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