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Reviewed by:
  • Juvie by Steve Watkins
  • Karen Coats
Watkins, Steve. Juvie. Candlewick, 2013. 311p ISBN 978-0-7636-5509-9 $17.99 Ad Gr. 7-10

Sadie is always willing to help out her family with whatever they need. They need a lot, though—her father is a reclusive hoarder who refuses to get help, her sister, Carla, is a substance-abusing single mom, and her mother works multiple jobs to keep them in their home. When Carla wants to party one night, Sadie lies to their mother and goes with her, only to find herself busted for drug trafficking when two guys trick her sister into making a delivery to an undercover cop. Since it would be Carla’s third offense, Sadie takes the fall thinking that she won’t have to do time, but a strict judge sentences her to six months in juvenile detention. There she runs afoul of the usual thugs and crazies before she settles into a keep-your-head-down existence that enables her to survive her first three months, which is where the story ends. The book presents Sadie’s sacrifice as the noble, right thing to do, as it enables Carla to get her act together so she can be a better mom, and while Sadie has to lie consistently to keep the real story from surfacing, she maintains her wholesome good-girl personality through her ordeal. The suggestion that even a bad rap and a stint in juvie don’t have to change who you are is an interesting one, and the psychology of enabling is certainly credible. The notion that her sentence won’t damage Sadie’s chances for a future, including a college scholarship, doesn’t ring true, though, especially since she will have to maintain the lie that she was in fact guilty of selling drugs. The point that not guilty doesn’t mean innocent—she did, after all, make a series of bad decisions in going with her sister to the party—is subtly made, and readers may detect it through the overt story of Sadie as a strong and caring heroine making the best of a bad situation. [End Page 242]



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Launched on MUSE
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