Meet three teens who have different stories to tell. Gecko has been trained since he was little to hotwire and be the getaway man. Arjay punched one guy a little too hard and that guy died. Terence comes from the big bad city of Chicago and was part of a big bad gang. All three are in juvenile detention and/or adult prison and are serving their time, hoping their time will come to its end soon.
And it does, in the form of Douglas Healy, who has written a grant to create a halfway house to reform juvenile delinquent. Doug picks these three boys because he sees himself in them, having been a delinquent himself in his earlier days. But more than that, he sees their potential.
And then one night...
they get into a pushing match after an argument between the guys to keep the rules or be sent back. When Healy comes to stop it, he becomes an accidental target and is pushed three stories below, bleeding. The boys have to make a decision...take the money and run or pretend Doug is okay and keep up their obligations for being in this halfway house. That means going to school everyday and keeping up grades, continuing their community service, and going to their scheduled counseling meetings. All until Healy recovers from his concussion and comes back to them.
But it isn't as easy as it looks. Terence wants to follow his dark side and can taste being part of a gang; Gecko falls in love and has to make the decision of truth or lies; and Arjay has the opportunity to be part of a band - something he's a natural talent at. Will their dual lives run parallel to each other or tear them apart? The only options are continue this battle of goodwill or be sent back; embrace their good side or welcome the dark side of what people and/or circumstances have made them.
Gordon Korman has written a range of books for YA. And while some find their shelves in the junior high, others make it to the high school. Interest level is key, and Korman finds them in a world of actuality for teens. I consider this book a gateway for Korman - best at junior high, but interesting enough to be placed in high school. Although the author has pared down realistic language in this book that I have seen in others similar in topic, the characters are fully realized. This isn't a dark book, but one about redemption, both for the situation the boys find themselves in as well as their with their personal demons.
On a personal note, I received a different bookcover than the one displayed here, and thought the other was more appealing...