Review — YOUNG AMERICANS by Peter S. Rush (Cameroon)


Young Americans
by Peter S. Rush (Cameroon 1972-73)
Prior Manor Press
310 pages
September 2020
$14.99 (paperback), $7.99 (Kindle)

Reviewed by Sue Hoyt Aiken (Ethiopia 1962-64)

I suspect the author’s experience as a policeman informed him about the drug business in all it terrorizing, criminal based, bribery infested, and dehumanizing process. If even a fraction of what is described is true, it is no wonder drug trafficking has never been successfully controlled.

The underlying story, however, is the impact sexual abuse of children has on them for the rest of their lives.  Children, who have no power over what is happening to them . . . even from those who are meant to love and protect them.

For Tommy, images, constantly waking him up at night, have led him to a life of turmoil,  trouble, and eventually to a dangerous game he hopes will fulfill his dreams. His one genuine thread of feeling and reality is Sandy, his girlfriend, whose childhood was anything but dangerous. Her country club parents had dreams for her to fulfill as a wife of the right kind of boy and the comfortable life of money and security.  Instead, she chooses the exact opposite in typical teenage resistance by doing nothing her parents wanted her to do.

Tommy and Sandy’s relationship holds the key to resistance, healing, violence and perhaps salvation.

Along the way, Tommy relives his painful past experience as he watches a bigger than life bully and father, pimp out his little girl stating, she had no other future anyway.  Tommy tries to protect her, which the child seems to understand.

This story could play itself out in any large American city, among rich and poor alike. As readers we are reminded vividly of what is at stake for the most vulnerable people in our communities. The war on drugs seems far from won.

Rush is a storyteller with graphic descriptions that stay with the reader who seeks to better understand how and why young people get pulled into the insidious and dream promising world of drugs.

Sue Hoyt Aiken (Ethiopia 1962-64) resides in Northern California not far from Berkeley, where she grew up prior to the troubling times of the sixties.  She returned to graduate classes at UC Berkeley in time to watch the resistance to Vietnam, the Freedom of Speech movement, and the breaking of many taboos that created places such as People’s Park off Telegraph Ave near campus.  Sleepy town and gown Berkeley was changed forever.

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