My rating: 4 of 5 stars
So, this is the first book I read for the 2012-2013 possible Gateway Award nominees through the Missouri Association of School Librarians. I’ve already 2 others on the list, but that was a while ago. Anyway, on with this review. It’s also the first book that I ever checked out as an e-book from our public library! Very cool. And one other first, the very first Walter Dean Myers book I’ve ever read. Lots of firsts for this book.
This book reminded me of a few that I read for the Gateway award last fall, specifically . Both were good, and while not normally the type of book I would pick out to read, I can totally see the audience in my classrooms who would really want to read them. I’m so glad that I’ve gotten the opportunity to be a reader selector for the past few years for the different Missouri award book nominees. It has really given me more insight into books for all readers, and if I ever get the chance to be a school librarian, I’ll feel even more prepared.
The main character is Reese, short for Maurice. He is in a juvenile detention center, jail for juvies basically. His crime was stealing prescription pads and giving them to someone so that person could then write fake scripts for drugs to sell. We start out the book with Reese hearing he has a chance to possibly get out early, and part of it is being a part of a new work program the center is trying. This center is called Progress. The job is working at a retirement home. At this home he meets a man named Mr. Hooft, who really is of that generation that doesn’t trust black people and judges him as a criminal. Meanwhile, Reese is dealing with the other kids back at the detention center. While he’s not in for a violent crime, he can lose his temper so quick and become extremely rough. And he actually does this most of the time in order to protect another inmate who keeps getting picked on, to the point where Reese is afraid this kid will be killed. But fighting is fighting, no matter why, and so he gets punished every time as well as the other person. And keeps putting his chance of early release in jeopardy.
I really liked the story between him and Mr. Hooft. It had parts that made me smile. I liked that deep down this kid was good, that he wanted to be good, but there were things in his environment that just kept getting him down and pushing him a step backward from his goals. I think the portrayal of the people working at the center is probably realistic, and kind of sad to think of. I know kids I can recommend this to, and I will. Good book.