Friday, September 20, 2013

The Panopticon by Jenni Fagan

Jenni Fagan's The Panopticon is a compelling first novel told in the voice of a fierce young lesbian, Anais Hendricks. Anais has spent her entire childhood as a ward of the Scottish government, placed in countless foster homes. At 15, she is moved to the Panopticon, a home for chronic young offenders.

Anais finds a place for herself amid the residents there, including other teenage queers. If she doesn't manage to turn over a new leaf, however -- and convince the police that she is not the one who put an officer in a coma -- the next place for her will be a secure lock-up until she turns 18.

"If they put me in a secure unit like John Kay's, with the kiddie killers or the pedos or whatever the fuck it is they keep up there, do you think there is any chance that I won't just fucking hang myself, Helen?"
"Calm down, Anais!"
"I'm not spending my life inside, for something I didnae fucking do!"
She takes coconut oil out of her bag and rubs it into her hands. She doesnae think I'm getting out -- she thinks I'm in the system now, all the fucking way. Foster care. Homes. Young Offenders. Jail. Where to when I graduate? Experiment headquarters -- so they can pickle my fucking brain.

Be prepared to have your heart broken by the circumstances of this young woman who can't seem to catch a break. Anais is like a diamond in the rough and I was cheering for her every step of the way.

Readalikes: Rose of No Man's Land (Michelle Tea); Lullabies for Little Criminals (Heather O'Neill).

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