By Shawn Goodman
Recommended by: Bridgid M. Cooper, Ithaca Teachers Association
Recommended for: Ages 14 and up
Why I chose this book: I was looking for a book to grab my reluctant readers. This book is written with short chapters, which helps these readers feel like they are making progress; they are less likely to give up before we really get into the story. The themes explored are family ties, brotherhood, loyalty, bullying and standing up for yourself and others when it is risky.
How teachers can use this book: This book sparks discussion without having to "drag it out" of the students. We also explored the juvenile justice system and the court systems for youth. These topics are covered in our government class and offer great cross-curricular possibilities.
What I like best: I like the development of the main character, James, as he encounters all of his trials in his small, Western New York hometown. James is a character to whom a reader can relate even if he/she has never had the same experiences. Readers root for him from beginning to end.
About the author: Shawn Goodman is a school psychologist and member of the Ithaca TA. He has also worked in juvenile detention centers. His other young adult titles include Something Like Hope, which won the 2009 Delacorte Prize for First Young Adult Fiction, and This Way Home. Learn more at www.shawngoodmanbooks.com.
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