Michael Berg answered a calling by writing this book and should be commended for his efforts. Utilizing his extensive background within state sponsored child care systems and his work with at risk youth, he paints disturbing picture of life inside a fictional foster care home, where children are pawns in a cruel game of shift, shuffle and ignore.The novel is set on a future stage where abortion has been outlawed in the United States and pro-choice advocates look eerily similar to the radical pro-life activists of today. Demonstrations, attacks on pro-life supporters and bombings are all part of the new pro-choice repertoire. Cheryl Cobb is a single mom, a full time waitress and a supporter of the women’s civil rights organization known as Pop-Con. When Cheryl is arrested for her involvement with the pro-choice group, her two daughters, seventeen year old Irene and twelve year old Rita, become wards of the state and are sent to the Trench Center Group Home. Set up more like a maximum security prison than a foster home, no one leaves the Trench unscathed. The sisters are immediately separated and the hope of being reunited quickly fades as each must find a way to endure and survive the physical, emotional and sexual abuse.

A sobering fictionalized account of child welfare programs that are overburdened, understaffed and ill equipped to respond to the growing needs of abused, neglected and high risk youth. Adding fuel to the already intense fire is the blatant corruption occurring on every level that has reduced children to paper statistics. Their value determined by the amount of medication and number of services that can be prescribed.

The author has woven the controversial abortion issue into the fabric of the story, by presenting various angles and the possible ripple effects of certain choices. It’s human nature to recoil from things that make us uncomfortable and there’s no denying this is a difficult read. Although you can’t help but hope for a “happily ever after” ending, it never materializes. The author’s passion and heart-felt convictions are easily discernible and there’s no denying his desire to make a difference in the lives of young people. Opening long closed doors and shining a light on the darkest of scenarios, Berg’s motives are genuine and admirable. There are a few problems with the writing– failure to utilize pacing to convey urgency and emotion causes the dialogue to fall flat at times and the characters aren’t fully developed and often appear weak. However, the subject matter is so moving, the reader is carried past these literary pit-falls and into the haunting reality of the Trench Center. Abandoned In The Maze is an eye-opening and heart breaking view of the foster care system and the horrific abuse suffered by the most needy among us.

Be Sociable, Share!