Random Acts of Senseless Violence
Jack Womack
Review by Paul Melko

Capsule Summary: The decay of society, the rise of fascism, wrecks the lives of a girl and her family, who, caught in the edge of this whirlwind, must fight, change or succumb.

This novel, written in diary form, chronicles a half-year in the life of young Lola Hart, a twelve-year-old girl living in Manhattan in the very near future. Over the course of her diary, we see her family struggle to survive in a world that is slowly disintegrating. The family is forced to move to a lower class neighborhood, to tighten their belts. Lola is charming and smart, intelligent and incisive in her commentary about her life.

Lola's parents appear as liberal hippies-turned-yuppies, her father a screen writer for PBS, her mother an English teacher who enjoys her sedatives a little too much. In contrast, her mother's sister in California is a militant right-winger, heading for the hills, armed to teeth, ready to fight to keep Amerikkka away from the undesirables. Lola can see that neither of these philosophies are working in the real world, the new world.

Slowly and painfully, Lola's ties to her old friends break and she forms new bonds with the girls of her new neighborhood. In so doing, her speech and thoughts transform. She becomes alienated from her parents and from her sister. This is both fascinating and horrifying to watch.

This one hurts to read. It makes you think about uncomfortable things, about conformity and alienation and loneliness. It makes the reader question the stability of his or her own life. Human society is examined and shown to be fragile and weak.

Touching, painful, repellent and gripping, this novel is a must-read.

Return to Review Indexes by author or reviewer.

Click here to return to the SIGMA mainpage.

This page maintained by Greg Armstrong