Celtic rope image

Theresa Breslin


Inspired by a modern visit to the now disused but eternally notorious prison, and the story of an attempted breakout nearly sixty years ago, Theresa Breslin tells of Marty, a teenager who has run away from a children's home in Chicago, whose dreams of a life growing tomatoes and peppers in the warmth of California or Mexico are destroyed by 20 seconds of blind panic when he gets involved in a friend's plan to rob a bank. As a result, Marty faces the threat of the electric chair, but his disadvantaged background wins him a reprieve: instead he must serve his life out in Alcatraz. Here he is haunted by the memory of his crime, and he comes to experience that cruelty, treachery and intimidation happen inside the prison just as it did in the slums from which he came. Breslin's writing is spare, direct, colloquial and poetic. Marty tells his own story, and through it we come to see how his dreadful experiences have created a strength of character and an insight into the irony of his situation, growing tomatoes in the California sun... Another of Barrington Stokes excellent short novels for reluctant teenage readers, expertly marketed at its target audience, and offering Key Stage 3 and older readers the opportunity to reflect on many aspects of the history, citizenship, and PSHE curriculum

From the Write Away! Website: www.writeaway.org.uk
Review by Bridget Carrington