First-time author Cerrito delivers a tale of crime, punishment, and self-discovery driven by subtle characterizations and simmering tensions. When chronic troublemaker Robbie Thompson ends up at Great Oaks School, it’s because he’s run out of chances. Now, stripped of all luxuries, he has to earn everything from fresh clothes and a shower to decent food and real conversation. And to do that, he must examine his life, his choices, and his mistakes. Robbie’s story unfolds in clipped sections that alternate between his present incarceration and flashbacks that center on his difficulties in school; his close ties to his uncle Grant, who is serving in Iraq; and particularly his intense relationship with his troubled friend Ryan—all of which culminate in a murder that still haunts him. Cerrito touches on themes of poverty, child abuse, and the psychology of violence, but refrains from drawing concrete conclusions—a narrative choice that may frustrate readers who crave definitive answers. Nevertheless, she portrays Robbie’s wobbly path to redemption with a persuasive blend of humor, desperation, and painful observation. Ages 12–up. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 06/13/2011 Release date: 03/01/2011 Genre: Children's
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