Wednesday, September 15, 2010
High School Pick
by Paul Volponi
Viking (Penguin), 2010
Gritty and disturbing, Riker's High follows a few weeks in the troubled life of Martin--Prisoner #40 at Riker's High, a dentention center for minors. Martin is in for a minor criminal offense, but thanks to an insane youth criminal system--one that gives him a "free" lawyer who won't listen to him, who tells him he's guilty though he assures her he's innocent, who sends him back to jail because she tells the judge she's not ready--the same lawyer who won't answer the phone even though Martin calls nearly 100 times. A system where on the next attempt, the judge is sick and Martin's trial is moved another two weeks. Martin is at the end of his rope.Surviving in a detention center is no easy feat. It's rougher inside that out on the streets with the gangs.
The world of Riker's High is a warped one--where there are no rules and even the good guys aren't the good guys. Readers won't easily forget this novel. Volponi shows us the youth criminal system in all its ugliness.
Violence, language, prison sex, suicide.
Not recommended for collections under grade 9.
Recommended for grades 10-12.
FTC Disclosure: I originally bought this book for my middle school library since it had good reviews from library publications. One said okay for grade 8. After reading it and reviewing it, I sent my copy to the high school. I received no monetary compensation for my review.