From School Library Journal
Grade 7 Up-- Set in working class London, We Are All Guilty centers on one incident in the life of Clive, an unemployed, directionless, and bored dropout who hates his stepfather and seems destined to drift until he finds trouble. Inevitably, that trouble comes when Clive and a friend, on a whim, break into a warehouse and cause the guard to fall off a platform and become paralyzed. The rest of the story is a quickly unfolding tale of Clive's desire to be guilty and get on with it and the various attempts of others to excuse his actions because of his background and lack of opportunity. From his mother, to the local vicar and the social service agents, all try to downplay his responsibility for the act. Clive's dilemma is real, and the story is believable. However, the ending, in which even Clive's unforgiving and intolerant stepfather begins to excuse his act, is difficult to swallow. This is a spare moral tale, a crisp, if tiny, glimpse at learning to accept responsibility. Does environment create crime? Amis clearly thinks the case in favor is lame. Good characters help make the heavy message more palatable. --Steve Matthews, Foxcroft School, Middleburg, VA
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Kirkus Reviews
Like some other established adult authors, Amis (Lucky Jim; The Old Devils, Booker Prize, 1986) seems to imagine that his expertise qualifies him to write for young people; unfortunately, he has come up here with a simplistic, condescending book. Clive, a working-class punk, is in serious trouble after breaking into a warehouse: a confrontation with the night watchman has resulted in the man's disabling injury. Almost everyone concerned--Clive's mother, his social worker, a hip young vicar, even his angry, sanctimonious new stepfather and the victim--conspire to explain, forgive, and blame anyone but Clive. Only the gruff police sergeant, who evidently speaks for the author, opines that Clive deserves to be punished. There's a nugget of truth here: as Clive senses, the misplaced sympathy does deprive him of the dignity of taking responsibility for his own actions. But Amis seems as oblivious to the real roots of Clive's antisocial behavior as his adult characters are; he even gives Clive the (unlikely) option of easily finding a job, and depicts him as bored with the girls he hangs out with. It all smells of the establishment believing that the lower classes would be all right if they'd just shape up. For a far more perceptive look at Britain's underclass, try Gillian Cross's Wolf (1991); unlike Amis's book, it has vibrantly individual characters and a compelling plot. (Fiction. 12-16) -- Copyright ©1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.