Dirt Road Home

Watt Key, Author
Watt Key, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $16.99 (224p) ISBN 978-0-374-30863-6
Open Ebook - 224 pages - 978-1-4299-3335-3
Paperback - 240 pages - 978-0-312-67435-9
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This gritty sequel to Key's Alabama Moon tells what happens to Moon's friend Hal after their escape from the Pinson Boys' Home. The book begins with 14-year-old Hal being sent to the Hellenweiler Boys' Home in Tuscaloosa, a "high-security jailhouse [used] to lock down eighty bad boys." Desperate to return to his father and to reunite with his girlfriend, Hal vows to "play it cool." It's hard to avoid trouble, however, when guards do nothing to prevent fights and two warring gangs pressure Hal to choose a side. As he becomes aware of underlying corruption in the system, preventing any chance for release, Hal has to decide between using brute force or his wits to survive. Readers will feel Hal's fear and temptation to give up, but unlike the boys' home itself, the novel is not without hope, and Hal hatches a plan to make the institutional corruption known. With authentic characters and a candid first-person narrative, Key's story offers a disturbing appraisal of life in a juvenile facility, and a riveting battle for justice. Ages 10–14. (July)
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