Ellis’ (Sit, 2017, etc.) compilation shares stories from Canadian youth and adult offenders, many of whom have experienced homelessness and been in and out of juvenile detention centers, foster homes, and group homes.
Nearly all the people profiled had troubled childhoods, with parents or caregivers who were abusive, neglectful, substance abusers, or a combination of the above. The stories connect the history of physical and emotional violence in their families with the young people’s own experiences of mental health challenges, anger, theft, drugs, and gangs, mirroring the negative models and environments they had growing up. The stories are compelling and dark, with some sharing how they have taken responsibility for the role they played in perpetuating the cycle of inflicting pain on others with their actions as well as how they have begun to turn their lives around, especially with the help of restorative justice practices and diversion programs. Each story is told in a short chapter of four to six pages. Text boxes offer discussion questions, action steps, and contextual information that could be used as prompts with teens. While the stories are quite moving, readers may wonder how Ellis gained access to these individuals; transparency regarding the sourcing and adaptation of the stories, as well as around agency, privilege, and civil rights of this vulnerable population, would have provided valuable ethical context. The people profiled represent diversity across multiple dimensions.
A powerful collection. (references and resources) (Nonfiction. 13-18)