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by Walter Dean Myers

Published by Amistad/HarperCollins, 2010
247 pages
ISBN: 978-0-06-121480-6

Ages 12 and older

Almost fifteen, Reese is trying for early release from Progress, a juvenile detention center. But his hopes are jeopardized when some of the tougher inmates target a kid named Toon and Reese feels he must physically defend the younger boy, especially when the guard on duty turns a blind eye to the pending violence. Reese’s actions reinforce the perceptions of those within the justice system who already believe he’s a criminal and lost cause. The warden at Progress wants him to understand that the choices he has made and continue to make matter. But racism, prejudice, poverty, and violence have been constants in Reese’s life—what kinds of choices does he really have? Talking with Mr. Hooft, who lives at the nursing home where Reese has a work release job, Reese begins to reflect more deliberately on that question, inspired in part by Mr. Hooft’s past experiences as a prisoner of war, not to mention the elderly man’s initially racist attitude toward Reese because he’s Black. Reese is also inspired by his younger sister, whose dreams he is determined to nurture. Myers’s affecting story affirms something fierce and essential: the desire to be loved and respected, to do the right thing, to be given a chance.  © Cooperative Children's Book Center

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