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Annotation: Teenage Reese, serving time at a juvenile detention facility, gets a lesson in making it through hard times from an unlikely friend with a harrowing past.
Catalog Number: #41143
Format: Perma-Bound Edition
All Formats: Search
Common Core/STEAM: Common Core Common Core
Publisher: HarperCollins
Copyright Date: 2010
Edition Date: 2010
Pages: 247 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 0-06-121482-5 Perma-Bound: 0-605-41054-2
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-06-121482-0 Perma-Bound: 978-0-605-41054-1
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2009007287
Dimensions: 18 cm.
Language: English
ALA Booklist
Myers takes readers inside the walls of a juvenile corrections facility in this gritty novel. Fourteen-year-old Reese is in the second year of his sentence for stealing prescription pads and selling them to a neighborhood dealer. He fears that his life is headed in a direction that will inevitably lead him "upstate," to the kind of prison you don't leave. His determination to claw his way out of the downward spiral is tested when he stands up to defend a weaker boy, and the resulting recriminations only seem to reinforce the impossibility of escaping a hopeless future. Reese's first-person narration rings with authenticity as he confronts the limits of his ability to describe his feelings, struggling to maintain faith in himself; Myers' storytelling skills ensure that the messages he offers are never heavy-handed. The question of how to escape the cycle of violence and crime plaguing inner-city youth is treated with a resolution that suggests hope, but doesn't guarantee it. A thoughtful book that could resonate with teens on a dangerous path.
Horn Book
Alex, a teenage burglar and bully, is framed for murder and incarcerated in the Furnace, a private prison governed by monstrous men with an insidious agenda. Despite many obstacles, Alex makes friends, improves his character, and plans an escape. Gory cruelties and unpredictable threats provide most of the impetus for the story. A shameless cliffhanger closes the volume.
Kirkus Reviews
Fourteen-year-old Reese Anderson has already spent 22 months at the oxymoronically named Progress Center, and his prison world is delineated in painstaking detail&mdash;eternal stasis, a non-life, ever vulnerable to random violence and the threat of detention, added time and being sent upstate. <p>Fourteen-year-old Reese Anderson has already spent 22 months at the oxymoronically named Progress Center, and his prison world is delineated in painstaking detail--eternal stasis, a non-life, ever vulnerable to random violence and the threat of detention, added time and being sent upstate. The claustrophobia felt by this likable kid trapped in a cruel environment is masterfully evoked--a cell measuring 93 inches by 93 inches, the outside world observed from one closed-tight window overlooking a fence with barbed wire and relationships based on mistrust and a hierarchy of fear. As in <i>Monster </i>(1999), Myers is interested in first steps--how a person goes from innocence to incarceration and the difficulty, once in the prison system, of getting out and staying out. He offers no easy answers, but roots salvation in a few helping hands along the way and in personal moral decisions; Reese comes to realize that home and the streets are not where it's at: "I know I got to start with me." <i>(Fiction. 12 & up)</p>
Publishers Weekly

Maurice “Reese” Anderson is sentenced to 38 months in Progress, a juvenile detention center in New York, for stealing prescription forms for use in a drug-dealing operation. After 22 months, Reese, now age 14, is assigned to a work-release program at Evergreen, an assisted-living center for seniors. There he meets racist Mr. Hooft, who lectures him on life’s hardships (having barely survived a Japanese war camp in Java), which causes Reese to reflect on his own choices. More than anything, he wants to be able to protect his siblings, who live with his drug-addicted mother, before they repeat his mistakes (“The thing was that I didn’t know if I was going to mess up again or not. I just didn’t know. I didn’t want to, but it looked like that’s all I did”). Reese faces impossible choices and pressures—should he cop to a crime he didn’t commit? stick out his neck for a fellow inmate and risk his own future? It’s a harrowing, believable portrait of how circumstances and bad decisions can grow to become nearly insurmountable obstacles with very high stakes. Ages 12–up. (Feb.)

School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up Maurice (Reese) Anderson, 14, stole prescription pads to make easy money for his family. Now he's serving time in a detention center. Working at a nursing home, he meets Mr. Hooft, who tells him that he doesn't like colored people or criminals. An antagonistic relationship quickly develops between them as Mr. Hooft verbally attacks the teen each time he attempts to carry out his duties. But there is greater trouble for Reese back at Progress; his impulsive behavior has left him at odds with the lead guard and the newly arrived gang leader. Now he must control his volatile and sometimes violent behavior when he is provoked as he awaits his appearance before the parole board. His fellow detainees have a wide variety of backgrounds, each offering a thread of connection to readers. Returning to common themes of justice, free will, and consequence, Myers again explores the mind of a young man struggling to survive the streets of Harlem. This latest work, while well written, doesn't achieve the emotional resonance of Paul Volponi's similar Rikers High (Viking, 2010). The characters feel static, and the depictions of the justice system and racial tensions will be familiar to many of Myers's readers. Hooft's incarceration in the Japanese camps during World War II is a somewhat unexpected revelation, but needs more historical background. Though not the author's most powerful work, this book has an audience waiting for it and should be purchased for most collections. Chris Shoemaker, New York Public Library
Voice of Youth Advocates
Fourteen-year-old Reese struggles to stay out of trouble while serving a sentence for theft in a juvenile detention facility. With only a few months remaining, he begins to think more seriously about what comes next. Participating in a work-release program in a nursing home, Reese experiences honest work and meets people from varied backgrounds. In particular is Mr. Hooft, a cranky old Dutchman who survived a Japanese POW camp as a child yet is withering away in the nursing home. Initially he has nothing but contempt for Reese, but a grudging respect grows over time. Reese begins to do the right thing. He protects a weaker inmate from a bully and promises to help his little sister get to college. Little by little, one positive leads to another. What makes Reese interesting is his balancing act between the positives and negatives in his life. Skilled at fighting and surviving amid violence, Reese recognizes that it is not the path to success. Can he leave the fighting and aggression behind? Myers crates a nuanced, realistic portrait of a teen dealing with incarceration and violence. He is a real teen trying to repair a complicated situation, and Myers gets his voice just right. Most teens do not have to deal with incarceration, yet they do face dilemmas, wrestle with behavior, and struggle to make wise and ethical choices. Many will recognize themselves in Reese and cheer him on as he struggles to create change in his life.ùAmy Fiske.
Word Count: 45,613
Reading Level: 4.7
Interest Level: 7-12
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 4.7 / points: 7.0 / quiz: 135792 / grade: Middle Grades+
Reading Counts!: reading level:4.5 / points:12.0 / quiz:Q49061
Lexile: 730L
Guided Reading Level: J
Fountas & Pinnell: J

Walter Dean Myers enjoys speaking with kids in schools and juvenile detention facilities about writing and making positive decisions. He says, "I have enormous faith in young people."

What's it like in juvie jail? Enter the world of fourteen-year-old Reese, who's locked up at Progress juvenile detention facility. Can he get a second chance?

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