Posted in Fashionably Late Reviews :)

Juvie by Steve Watkins

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Borrowed from the library. Candlewick Press, 2013.

You can’t blame me for picking this just because of the cover, right? It’s awesome. And I’m not even ashamed that my secondary motive for picking this up is because of a certain Netflix series…

Sadie Windas has always been the responsible one — she’s the star player on her AAU basketball team, she gets good grades, she dates a cute soccer player, and she tries to help out at home. Not like her older sister, Carla, who leaves her three-year-old daughter, Lulu, with Aunt Sadie while she parties and gets high.

The set up for this book was well done, I feel. The way the relationship with her sister changes and evolves was really interesting, especially when Sadie’s role as the younger sister isn’t presented in the expected ways.

But when both sisters are caught up in a drug deal — wrong place, wrong time — it falls to Sadie to confess to a crime she didn’t commit to keep Carla out of jail and Lulu out of foster care. Sadie is supposed to get off with a slap on the wrist, but somehow, impossibly, gets sentenced to six months in juvie.

The shit has hitteth the fan. This, actually, was the only part I wasn’t 100% happy to run with. Sadie isn’t completely blameless, but I felt like she was given the martyr card to use too flippantly. It was the mother’s stance in all this that I had the most trouble accepting.

As life as Sadie knew it disappears beyond the stark bars of her cell, her anger — at her ex-boyfriend, at Carla, and at herself — fills the empty space left behind.

Once Sadie is in juvie, the story really takes off. I think the use of flashbacks were useful, but I grew restless reading them because I wanted to be in the present with Sadie, living through hell with her! The set up is very much like Orange is the New Black, Sadie/Piper is shown in the past while living through the trials and tribulations of the present.

The scenes set in juvie were great. The character set was great, even though the descriptions do err on the side of cliche in places. But what I enjoyed the most about this book, I think, was how it had a focus and didn’t stray from it. There was no romance-for-the-sake-of-romance, there was no gratuitous violence or unmotivated actions, and I was quickly absorbed in the story.

Very much a character led story, I could compare it to a Sarah Dessen (without the romance), in the way it explores character development and personal trails and triumphs. It’s in the familial ties too, and the gentle way the internal monologue is expressed.

Concept – 4/5

Plot – 4/5

Ending or Twist – 3/5

Characters – 4/5

Overall – 4/5

A solid read. It’s both gentle and tough in equal measures with writing that’s sound as a pound.

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Author:

YA writer. Epic reader. Professional procrastinator.

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