ZERO TOLERANCE by Claudia Mills


Age Range: 8 - 12
Email this review


After turning in a paring knife she accidentally brought to school with her lunch, a high-achieving, rule-following seventh-grade girl is suspended, and her case becomes a media sensation.

Rules require exceptions, people are more complex than they seem, and bigheartedness trumps revenge: These are some of the many themes author Mills takes on in this idea-stuffed, somewhat overpopulated but thought-provoking novel. No one is more surprised than the slightly smug Sierra Shepard when she goes from teacher’s pet to class pariah. Before you can say “knife fight,” she’s clapped into the duller-than-dull in-class suspension room and given a hearing date for likely expulsion. This enrages Sierra’s hard-driving attorney father, who alerts the media, bringing attention to her plight. Unfortunately, it also puts the well-meaning Principal Besser between a rock and a hard place and stirs conflict with Sierra’s artsy mother. Being treated like a criminal causes Sierra to do something surprisingly rotten that could upend her case, and, straining credibility, Principal Besser has a secret he’d rather not reveal. Ideas and personalities compete for page time, giving some of the scenes a sketchy feel, but readers should be fully engaged by the suspenseful climax. Sierra learns that her fellow detainees are sympathetic individuals, particularly her always-in-trouble classmate, Luke Bishop, and ultimately, the situation gives her a more nuanced perspective and generosity of spirit.

Provocative and fun, from a master of the school story. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: June 25th, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-374-33312-6
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 2013


ChildrenNIXIE NESS, COOKING STAR by Claudia Mills
by Claudia Mills
ChildrenWRITE THIS DOWN by Claudia Mills
by Claudia Mills
ChildrenTHE TROUBLE WITH BABIES by Claudia Mills
by Claudia Mills
ChildrenCODY HARMON, KING OF PETS by Claudia Mills
by Claudia Mills
ChildrenANNIKA RIZ, MATH WHIZ by Claudia Mills
by Claudia Mills