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BAD by Jean Ferris

BAD

by Jean Ferris

Age Range: 13 - 15

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-374-30479-3
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Ferris (Love Among the Walnuts, p. 1115, etc.) chooses an unusual locale—the Girls’ Rehabilitation Center, or GRC— for this story about a teenager’s attempt to bring herself into focus. Dallas is a bad girl, who thrills to the dangers of “skating”’shoplifting, purse-snatching, joyriding, having sex in public places—that almost fill the vacuum she feels inside. In the opening chapter, she is the reluctant gunwoman in a failed hold-up of a convenience store, which lands her six months in the GRC. Her comrades forget her; her father, who could have prevented her incarceration with a good word to the authorities, decides that serving her sentence will do Dallas some good. Life in the GRC is structured, isolating, rigorous, and sometimes violent. The author puts together an abrasive, volatile, and abused set of characters; at the center is Dallas, whose vacillating emotions and internal blueprint for failure come across as lived experience. Ferris subtly and skillfully divines slim hope and a glimmer of choice from the necessarily weighted stories of the girls on the inside, making for a compelling read. (Fiction. 13-15)