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Friday, March 20, 2020

After the Fire by Will Hill: A review by Warren Bull

After the Fire by Will Hill: A review by Warren Bull

Image by Juan Encalada on Upsplash

This is an award-winning book with great reviews that I believe you should not read, give as a gift, or donate to a library. Although I try to limit my reviews to books I can recommend, this is an exception. In part, this is well written, even compelling. Moonbeam is an adolescent who lived in a compound like the   Davidian sect had outside Waco, Texas. Hill described of her life in the compound and the psychological trauma that resulted very well.

What completely ruins the book for me is the description of what happened to her when in the care of social services and his of description the “therapy” she received.  I am willing to suspend disbelief, especially when the main character is interesting. What I cannot believe is that children in the care of the state are deprived of all civil rights, never given basic information, and have absolutely no access to legal resources. Perhaps, being British, the author did not know that children taken into custody are immediately assigned an attorney whose purpose is to look out for their best interests and who visit the children frequently. If he did not, he certainly either failed to investigate or he decided to depict a system George Orwell would instantly recognize.


As a clinical psychologist for thirty years, the failure of minimal ethical behavior, the many laws broken in the area of mental health and the incredible repeated level of malpractice shown throughout this work are mindboggling. I. For years, I worked with some excellent treatment facilities in Texas, where this book is set. The behavior of the “treatment staff depicted would appall them. If you know someone who had the unfortunate experience of reading this book, please let them know that care by the state and minimally competent therapy are not even remotely as horrendous as this irresponsible writing makes them appear. 

5 comments:

Margaret S. Hamilton said...

Interesting! I'm surprised the publisher didn't fact check what child services does and what kind of professionals staff it.

KM Rockwood said...

Being a child placed in state custody is no picnic; the staff is overwhelmed (and grossly underpaid,) beds are is short supply, especially for teens, sometimes resulting in a child being placed in a secure juvenile facility for lack of any other option, and hugely traumatic for the child.

But the vast majority of the staff is competent and compassionate, and doing their very best to provide what the child needs. Some attorneys are wonderful, although a few are assigned by judges (or masters) who are their friends because they can't get regular clients. (My nephew was assigned to the alcoholic cousin of a sitting magistrate. Fortunately, numerous responsible relatives were available and willing to take custody, so the attorney's interactions with the child were not vital.)

Warren Bull said...

Margaret, I was surprised when getting the correct information would be easy.

Warren Bull said...

KM, I agree that the vast majority of people involved with children in foster care are compassionate and caring, even thought the workload is way too high.

Kait said...

This is shocking, Warren, and you have performed a public service in pointing it out.