cover image Do Not Pass Go

Do Not Pass Go

Kirkpatrick Hill, . . S&S/McElderry, $15.99 (229pp) ISBN 978-1-4169-1400-6

Readers influenced by Hollywood depictions of jailhouse violence and brutal inmates may broaden their view of penitentiary life after reading Hill's (Dancing at the Odinochka ) quiet, insightful novel. Alaska native Deet is deeply shaken when his mother tells him that his overworked stepfather, Charley, who has been taking pills to keep himself awake, has been arrested for drug possession. Deet fears that when the news gets out, he and his two younger sisters will be teased at school. He is also concerned about what will happen to Charley: "Dad in there with horrible criminals, murderers. Gentle, cheerful Dad." Over time, however, Deet discovers that many of his worries are unwarranted. Instead of being taunted by acquaintances, he is consoled by classmates and neighbors, some of whom know what it's like to have a family member in jail. Deet also learns that the prison where his father serves time is not quite as dangerous and dismal as he had imagined. While visiting his father, Deet observes that other prisoners and their families are mostly ordinary people, "like anyone else you might see in the streets." Yet Hill does not sugarcoat the hardships that plague Deet's family—financial problems, added responsibilities, uncertainties about the future. Deet emerges as a sensitive, courageous protagonist who is smart enough and open-minded enough to look past people's mistakes. Ages 9-14. (Jan.)