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by Adam Rapp

Age Range: 12 & up

Pub Date: May 30th, 1997
ISBN: 1-886910-19-7

 In a distinctive, compelling narrative, Sura, 12, chronicles life at a juvenile detention home, where he has been sent for stealing hood ornaments. Although the novel is written largely in street slang, Sura's voice is sympathetic and sensitive, making vivid the sometimes horrid, sometimes touching details of life in the home. Most absorbing are the characters, from the sad (roommate Coly Jo, busted for breaking into people's homes and watching them sleep) to the cold (the abusive administrator, Dean Petty) to the ridiculous (the well-meaning but clueless counselor, Deacon Bob Fly) and the frightening (bullies Boo and Hodge). Simple observations heighten the heartbreaking humiliation of Sura's roommate; while Coly Joe is tragically beaten down, physically and emotionally, Sura learns to stand up for himself and value life on the outside, home with his mother. The affecting glimpses into the lives of some of the offenders are authentic offerings of understanding, utterly free of preaching. Rapp (Missing the Piano, 1994) writes in earthy but adept language in this dark and stirring novel. (Fiction. 12+)