THE BATTLE OF JERICHO

Sharon M. Draper, Author . S&S/Atheneum $16.95 (304p) ISBN 978-0-689-84232-0

Draper (Forged by Fire; Double Dutch) conveys the seductive power of teen clubs and the dangers of hazing rituals in this timely novel about a talented trumpet player. Jericho is ecstatic when he and his cousin Josh get the coveted invitation to join the Warriors of Distinction, a prestigious organization known for its community service. Both boys enjoy raised status at Frederick Douglass High when word gets out that they've pledged, but becoming a Warrior comes at a high price. During initiation week, Jericho compromises his dignity, his morals and, as the nightly rituals become increasingly intense, even his dreams of attending Juilliard. Other pledges suffer as well. One engages in strenuous physical activity despite his heart condition, and Dana, the only female member of the group, is continually harassed by a sadistic senior Warrior. The novel is not without flaws. Many characters border on stereotypes and much of the plot is fairly predictable, but these problems may be overlooked by audience members who are anxious to find out how extreme Jericho and others can be. As tragedy inevitably strikes, the author drives home an important message about peer pressure. Ages 12-up. (June)

Reviewed on: 06/09/2003
Release date: 06/01/2003
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