Alyss in Wonderland
by Alyss Glas
Amazon Digital Services LLC

"Gatekeepers are everywhere, already. I’ve been surrounded by them from the school yard . . . I realise they hold no allegiances: they are on their own side."

In her teens, Alyss is assigned as the first woman customs inspector on Sydney’s waterfront. Her initiation is arranged by a male boss. Outfitted with the regulatory jacket, handbag, and short, tight skirt, she has to board shipside from a tossing launch. Her teammates stand below to watch the” show” as she climbs up a rope ladder to the railing where the ship’s crew pull her onto the heaving deck. The boss and his team celebrate this event and nickname her “Alyss in Wonderland.”

Inspectors carry forms out to ships waiting to declare their contents before being allowed to dock. Boarding is limited to certain times of day, so Alyss and fellow inspectors wait to be summoned from their “office”―a local pub. A drinking lifestyle soon causes the skirt to fit tighter. Alyss falls for Rob, a blonde government coworker who rides a motorcycle. When she refuses his sexual advance, Rob leaves. Other guys come into her life briefly, except for long-term mentor, Tex, whom she calls “Padre.” Alyss shares an apartment with a clerical co-worker. Gail likes to party and knows where to find drugs. The consequences of Gail’s friendship and the contents of her own handbag decide Alyss’ fate.

Glas has produced an engaging rite-of-passage novel. Like the popular song, Alyss was confronted with drugs and alcohol, on and off her job. She was still young and raised religious. Teen readers will relate to the temptations, dialogue, and music of the day. This fictional memoir is based on the author’s experience as a native Australian who worked on the Sydney waterfront during the seventies. It reveals corruption on the docks, with gatekeepers missing a forty-foot container ship that passed illegally. It offers glimpses into Australia’s rough culture inherited from its British prisoners.

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