Watkins, Steve. Juvie.
4Q * 3P * J * S
Watkins, Steve. Juvie. Candlewick, 2013. 320p. $17.99. 978-0-7636-5509-9.
Sadie is a good student and star basketball player. She stays out of trouble so she can qualify for an athletic scholarship, which is the only way she can afford college. She works a part-time job and takes care of her young niece for her older sister, who is on probation for drug and alcohol violations. She does not trust anything her sister says, but she agrees to be the designated driver and go to a party with her. All goes awry, however, when her sister gets falling-down drunk. Frustrated and wanting to leave, Sadie agrees to take two young men to the nearby 7-Eleven, where they say they want to pick up beer. Rather than doing that, they are actually there to drop off drugs, and they leave them in her car, where she is picked up by the police. In order to keep her sister out of jail and her niece out of the foster system, she pleads guilty after agreeing to a plea bargain that gets her probation. The agreement is thrown out by a substitute judge who sentences her to six months in juvenile hall, plus the probation. The story of her time in "juvie" and the time leading up to it are told in alternating chapters, with titles reminiscent of Dickens. Like one of his characters, it is left to the reader to discover if Sadie will be the hero of her own life.
The truth of surviving juvie is told with unflinching honesty and may be an eye-opener to many readers. The subject matter should appeal to reluctant readers, but the length may be a challenge. Recommend this title to students who are fans of such programs as Scared Straight.--Suanne B. Roush.