Richard Ross spent a lot of time sitting, writing, getting permission, and listening to the stories of teens (as well as children aged 12 years old) of what life is like inside the bars of juvenile detention centers throughout the nation. It isn't pretty...
The first thing the reader will see are statistics: Juvenile courts process about 4,600 delinquency cases per day; juvenile incarceration is unique among the world's developed nations; the cost (from 66k-88k) it takes to pay for a young person in the system for 9-12 months. These aren't the only facts scattered throughout this book. There are many more...
Stories about told and re-told. You see the plight of a twelve-year old who was thrown in juvenile detention for fighting in school, just waiting until his mom can pick him up after work. You also see the 16 year old who has multiple counts of rape, murder and assault on his record. It shows incarcerated teens visiting their babies as well as the creativity these teens possess in a new environment that is much more restricted that life outside. Pages are filled with different stories, some saying their innocent, some saying they've changed, some saying they're guilty....
Ross also spends time in his book to get a holistic view of what the Youth Offender System looks like from solitary confinement to regular cells, from the cafeteria to the guard's observation room. Nothing is left out, and readers get face-time through stunning photos of what life looks like on the inside. Ross also takes the reader into facilities that aren't all bars and concrete. They look more like rehabilitation centers than prison cells. But it's always the same kids in every facility there is.
This book will definitely get different reactions from different readers. But what's most important is the story that's told throughout the book. It's a quick read because of the pictorial nature of this non-fiction, but it's powerful. The saying, "A picture tells a thousand words" is true in this instance. It has taken a lot of perseverance and a keen eye to capture the beauty in a world where not much beauty can be found. This is one non-fiction novel that should be in all YA libraries. Recommended.
Fiction book pair: Monster by Walter Dean Myers
Rikers High by Paul Volponi
**I am adding the companion website to this book, but am not advocating or have any personal affiliation for any political information found therein. http://www.juvenile-in-justice.com/
It's coming. A pink tinge hangs in the air ready to burst into full bloom red. Chocolates are molded, wrapped, and dipped, that irritating commercial from Pajamagram slips into the regularly scheduled commercials, and the cards full of love, hope and poetry are purchased in bulk. (as an aside, my husband has given me the same Valentine's Day card for the last 20 years, and every year it means something different) But fear not! There is hope in the form of YA novels! And not a moment too soon! Here is a short compiled list of recent romance novels written with teens in mind. And what's more, they're all novel in verse. Get lost in the translation...
Audition by Stasia Ward Kehoe. Viking, 2011. Sara's first love is ballet, and now her hard work and determination have paid off. She's accepted into an apprenticeship with professional dance company and moves to New York to fulfill her dreams. Her excitement quickly turns into loneliness, until she meets Remington, a choreographer who works with this troupe of ballerinas. Sara's loneliness quickly turns to giddiness, then into the ultimate emotion and decision she never thought she'd make. What, exactly, does she truly want, in terms of a relationship and career? Life is the ultimate learning experience for her. Genre: real life read
To Be Perfectly Honest by Sonya Sones. Simon &Schuster, 2013.
It's hard being the daughter of the most famous actress in Hollywood. Just ask Collette. She's lived in the shadows most of her life and has found the best way to escape them is to lie. Just little white lies.. those never hurt anyone. So when she and her little brother go on "vacation" with their mother to film a new movie (starring, who else?), Collette brings out her secret stash of lies. And when she meets Connor, she feels it'll be the only thing to protect her from the shadow of her famous mom. He's gorgeous, older, sweet and sexy, and Collette falls in love. But the more lies you tell, the harder it is to keep them up. Add a relationship to this mix, and Collette is just waiting for disaster to strike...or can she get away with it? Genre: romance
Hideous Love by Stephanie Hemphill. Balzer + Bray, 2013. Mary was young when she first met Percy. Living in Victorian England, becoming betrothed was a difficult task for her, especially as a girl with an academic background. But sometimes emotions outweigh the logic. Mary and Percy begin a love affair that quickly turns illicit. She makes the decision to elope with Percy, who would always be her heart's desire. What she wasn't expecting was his adamant request to also bring along her step-sister. Mary overlooks his philandering ways, but jealousy still lingers every time she sees them together. Writing is an outlet Mary turns to in order to let free her emotions, experiences, and academic desires. Little did she know it would be the most celebrated gothic romance of its time...Frankenstein. Based on true biographies. Genre: historical fiction
Love & Leftovers by Sarah Tregay. Katherine Tegan, 2011. Marcie has been pulled in two, emotionally and literally. Her parents divorce has completely screwed up Marcie's life, and to help her mom pull through the depression, they move from Idaho to New Hampshire to start a new life over. That means Marcie must leave her boyfriend and group of the best friends she's ever had, behind. But it doesn't mean the end of their relationship. She constantly emails them all (aka the Leftovers), never losing touch them and hanging onto her relationship with her boyfriend. But communication starts to drift when the cute guy in school takes a liking to Marcie. One secret withheld from her boyfriend but told to her best friend becomes her undoing. Genre: real life read; romance
Falling For You by Lisa Schroeder. Simon Pulse, 2013. Love is a battlefield, and Rae is fighting through it right now. She's in the hospital, unconscious, not sure if she'll pull through or not. Rae can't stand to be around her step-father, so she spends most of her time at school and work, waiting for the day she can leave this town behind. The only person she'd miss would be her best friend Leo, who makes her feel happy and carefree. But then she meets the heartstopper, Nathan, and their relationship blossoms. But the bloom becomes obsession and jealousy. Rae knows what started out good is now toxic. Leo is the only person Rae can talk to, and Nathan cannot stand that. Will she have to lose both in order to start life over again? One day, one gun, one life... Told through flashback. Genre: real life read (this is more of a novel that contains Schroeder-esque poetry glittering throughout)
Waiting by Carol Lynch Williams. Simon & Schuster, 2012. Growing up as children of missionaries, London and Zach's life have always had higher expectations (kind of like kids of preachers and teachers). But when Zach lives life his way instead of his parents, the pressure becomes to great and he takes his life. The entire family is stunned, and London can't shake the feeling that she's to blame. Her mother won't talk to her, her father is distant, and Zach is gone...she thinks about her boyfriend Taylor, but feels the need to cut him out of her life because he was Zach's best friend; he knows too much family history. But a new family moves into town, and London feels a pull to Jesse. He's new, irresistible, and knows nothing about her past life, social and private. A perfect getaway. But even that really doesn't help her situation, and now London is pulled is more directions that she thought possible. Genre:real life read
Addendum: here are also some other excellent YA novels (not in verse):
Bunheads by Sophie Flack. Poppy, 2011 Genre: real life reads
Chopsticks by Jessica Anthony and Rodrigo Corral. Razorbill, 2012. Genre: picture book
Eve & Adam by Michael Grant and Katherine Applegate. Feiwel and Friends, 2012. Genre: science fiction
The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler. Razorbill, 2011. Genre: historical fiction
Pizza, Love & Other Stuff That Made Me Famous by Kathryn Williams. Henry Holt and Co., 2012 Genre: girl reads
Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson. Simon & Schuster, 2012. Genre: real life reads
Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler and Maira Kalman. Little Brown and Co, 2011. Genre: real life reads
This is a picture of my daughter and her boyfriend. Her mum cost over 300.00 and went right to the floor. She weighs about 110 pounds, the mum weighed between 10-15 pounds....Complete with lights on a powerbox with switch. This is a 3 flower mum. At our school, seniors have silver mums, juniors high gold mums, and underclassmen have mum in school colors.
This is the first Western novel I've read in quite awhile because it doesn't seem like there are many novels in this genre, and Kathleen Kent delivers! Set in the state of Texas from Ft. Worth to Houston and continuing to the turn-of-the-century New Orleans, Louisiana, Kent weaves three tales in one.
Lucinda wants to leave the cathouse and create a new start with the love of her life. She knows the many pitfalls of her profession and Madame Landry is cunning, keeping a tight fist over her girls, making sure they have little opportunity to leave. Lucinda takes the only chance she has by planning her getaway and stealing from Landry. Her beau is willing marry her, but she needs to find a respectable job. The opportunity as a teacher comes up in the small community of Middle Bayou, near Houston and while Lucinda may not be a teacher, her life has led her to create a close relationship with numbers, especially geometry. She uses this as a tactic to escape reality and help curb her ailment that has plagued her since childhood and one she is hellbent on hiding. It won't take long for every niche in Lucinda's life to come out....
Nate is a new lawman from Oklahoma who is working for the first time with two famed Rangers, Deerling and Dr. Tom, learning what justice and law truly is in the Old West while still trying to preserve his integrity. His passion is horses, and he landed the job because of his reputation training them. Nate leaves behind a wife and daughter, whom he loves dearly and fights against the perils of his position. His conscience and his position fight and rebel against each other as he sees firsthand how the Rangers work, not quite defying the law, but not quite working within it. Is there room for patience and tolerance in the Texas Ranger brotherhood? He fights against their handling of outlaws and Indians, and this battle between mindsets has caused friction between Nate and the Rangers. But one thing will draw them together. For the Rangers, it's an end to personal injury; for Nate, it's a promise he keeps...
McGill is a psychopathic outlaw who won't let anyone, including women and children, get in the way of his sole pursuit - finding the easy life at whatever price. McGill knows his trail is hot in Texas, but when he finds out about the prospect of a fortune ready for the taking, he takes a chance and goes to find it with two of his henchmen in tow. McGill is not only a psychopath, but a master manipulator, able to charm strangers into overlooking who he truly is to create a chameleon-like personality. His luck and prowess have kept him alive this long thus far....
One gold piece, one tall tale of Jean LaFitte, and the singular and personal drive of all of these characters to do what they set out for will put them on a collision course with fate. The Old West is unforgiving, and it's this emotional landscape that molds the people who lived it.
Kathleen Kent writes a fast-paced novel rich with history and description of not only the setting, but the characters and themes as well. Separated into chapters, she knows when to switch voices, leaving the reader wanting to know more about the previous story while slowly beginning to see the threads that knit everything together. More than that, Kent creates drama and surprise not only for the characters but also the reader. She bookends this novel with a beautifully crafted foreword and afterword. This novel can definitely be added to both adult and young adult shelves.
Highly recommended for secondary collections
Bad Girls by Jane Yolen Lone Star Lawmen: the second century of the Texas Rangers by Robert M. Utley
Photo by Brady by Jennifer Armstrong
If you like this, then you'll like:
Stephen King's Dark Tower series
Rapunzel's Revenge by Shannon Hale
Velvet Ellis lives in a different world as a teen than she did as a child. There is no time for play, and very little time for school. Velvet wishes she could have her old life back at home with her parents making all of the decisions, but that life is over. It's more about survival now...,.
It all started with the newest drink, ThinPro, that helps you lost the weight you want to. Most everyone in the country drank it, but little did they know they were drinking more than water. And when the Contamination hit, the people who drank ThinPro changed.
The contaminated are now called Connies, raging mind-numbing people who barely resemble their former selves. They're raging creatures, stumbling slowly toward the next victim regardless of who it could hurt them. They look like zombies, but they aren't. And Velvet's parents both became Connies.
Velvet has never given up trying to find her mother. Every week she goes to the kennel to try and find her among the fetid, contaminated cages of people waiting to be found. And one day, Velvet literally stumbles upon her mother. It's time to take her home.
Connies don't change much. They are still prone to being raging creatures, so to help protect the general population, they must wear collars that will stun them into submission. There are certain protocols to keeping a contaminated person, and Velvet quickly realizes that trying to take of her sister, keeping a roof over their heads, going to school and working a job, and now taking care of her mother is too much. Something's got to give...
And then it does...
Em Garner writes a brilliant dystopian novel whose premise of the downfall of the United States is unique and terrifying because it is based on something that could potentially happen. The contamination knows no boundaries and affects anyone and everyone. Garner brings in so many variants of society vs. man, including vanity, morality, prejudice and discrimination and survival of the fittest. She creates a future world where history from the past is repeating itself. The first chapter will rivet the reader to continue through the book and they will stay entranced with the unfolding story to the very end. There has to be a sequel...and I can't wait to continue this story! Recommended for JH/HS
Invincible Microbe: tuberculosis and the never-ending search for a cure by Jim Murphy and Alison Blank
If you like this then you'll like...
Rage Within by Jeyn Roberts
Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick
Z by Michael Thomas Ford
Jake is a slacker who'd rather sit in his basement and play video games. He doesn't get out much, but one fateful night, he does and meets a hot, sexy barfly. It's by no way going to form a lasting relationship, more like a one-night stand. But it's definitely a girl and night that will change his world....forever.
Amanda sparkles down the halls of high school. She's one of those beautiful girls people want to stare at but know it's rude to. Her self-confidence is obvious, but people question why she would date a meathead like Chazz, who's more into skipping school and working out. She's getting tired of the whole relationship.
Cass is a loner. She had a few friends in high school, but had the opportunity to work for a secret division of the FBI, known as the NCD (Necrotic Control Division). She has some unusual gifts they are tapping into, and the NCD relies on Cass to track down zombies.
Their worlds will collide when Jake and Amanda manage to eat most of the senior class and then run. They are fugitives looking for their next meal (anyone say pervert alert?) And it's during this time they come to terms with how this zombie thing works. Throw what you think you know about zombies out the window. Cass has been tapped to find these crazed killers while the FBI creates a cover story, but little do they know that when Cass steps into the mind of Jake it's more about stepping into a romantic fantasy than tracking a killer. She's falling in love...with a zombie?
Jeff Hart writes a hilarious and gut-wrenching (yeah, I did it....pun intended) book about teens, zombies, men in suits and a possible cure to this whole mess. When reading it, I couldn't help thinking about the crazy guy in the Greenpeace Santa commercial (you have to check that out!), the Walking Dead, crazy Indians in war paint and scalp necklaces, and creepy fed agents wearing bowties. I triple dare you not to laugh through this immensely well-written and much needed hilarious horror genre! Hart definitely changes the definition of zombie that you'll have never read before into something extremely interesting and unexpected, which makes this book such a great read. The only thing that worries me is this was never published in hardcover. PLEASE write the sequel! I need know what happens in Iowa! Highly recommended
If you like then, then you'll like:
The Infect by Sean Beaudoin
Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride
Soul Enchilada by David Macinnis Gill
Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion