Jericho has it made—he gets a car for Christmas from his Dad and step-mother, has a pretty and intelligent girl friend, and has been asked to pledge for the Warriors of Distinction, a high school private club. This club has a long history of good deeds and public work in the community, and many prominent people Jericho knows were once members during high school. But the pledging process strikes Jericho as demeaning and weird. Dana, the only girl in the group, seems to be getting more than her share of the abuse, and he starts wondering about this seemingly wonderful club. When he has to decide between a concert recital that could earn him a scholarship to Julliard, or whether to take part in the pledging rituals, Jericho chooses the rituals. The last night of pledging leads to a horrible consequence, and he realizes that he made a big mistake. The book outlines why hazing rituals are outlawed in many places in North America. It also shows how the participants can be caught up in the process, and do not realize how wrong it is until something goes very badly. Jericho is a typical African-American teenager and the side story of his life with a new stepmother and his dealings with girls add more poignancy to the story. This is a touching and scary novel that is excellently written. 2003, Simon and Schuster Publishing,
Draper does not write books; she writes parables. In her latest, eleventh-grader Jericho Prescott is the endearing kid everyone wants in his or her family: a thinking, sensitive young man. He lives with his father, stepmother, and two little stepbrothers who idolize their loving big brother. True to his name, Jericho finds peace in his trumpet, named Zora, as he plays out his emotions. (If Jericho were any less wonderful, the story would be less heartbreaking.) Jericho and his cousin have been asked to join the Warriors of Distinction, a seemingly respectable service club, giving them a chance to be part of the elite instead of just on the fringe watching. Pledge week starts and Jericho's doubts begin. At school, the initiation is playful, but several staff members express concern about rumors of serious hazing. At night, the pledges suffer growing humiliation, from being walked on dog leashes to receiving violent paddling to digging through a manure-filled garbage bin for a gun. No one stops it-not when Dana gets a swirlie in a urine-filled toilet or when Kofi turns gray from his heart disorder after exhaustive running, or when they are told to jump out of a second-story window. The book's lesson for adults confirms what they fear: Youth do not think for themselves, and when they are forced to choose between the dangerous and not fitting in, danger does not look so bad. Its lesson for youthful readers is yet another warning: Be careful what you trade away in exchange for acceptance because the cost is usually very high. VOYA CODES: 4Q 4P J S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades10 to 12). 2003, Atheneum/S & S, 297p, Bott
Gr 7-10-When an elite club, The Warriors of Distinction, invites Jericho and his cousin Josh to pledge, the teens look forward to wearing the black silk jacket, going to great parties, and receiving the admiring glances of the other students at their Ohio high school. Even the girl Jericho has a crush on begins to show an interest in him. The initiation process begins rather tamely with the new pledges helping with the Christmas toy drive, but as it progresses, Jericho becomes increasingly uncomfortable with what they are asked to do and the way they treat Dana, the first-ever female pledge. Adopting the group's "All of us or none of us" creed, the 15 inductees decide to continue. In an intense climax, pledging goes tragically wrong and the repercussions are felt throughout the community. Draper has captured the essence of teens caught up in peer pressure who must ultimately live with the results of their actions. Her characters are deeply human and the strong plot mirrors the difficult choices that young people must make as they try to reconcile their need for acceptance with their inner values. Mostly, though, this title is a compelling read that drives home important lessons about making choices.-Janet Hilbun, formerly at Sam Houston Middle School, Garland, TX Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
The Warriors of Distinction are Douglas High's elite group, a brotherhood separate from school, a service club with a secret initiation resulting in a slick jacket that is the ultimate status symbol for the guys. When cousins Josh and Jericho and their friend Kofi are asked to participate in the Christmas toy drive, they know they are being considered as members. When Kofi's girlfriend Dana sneaks into the midnight initiation, demanding her right to join, everyone knows that this will not be an ordinary pledge group. Draper drops plenty of hints that hazing can be dangerous, even deadly and then supplies a dénouement that's unexpected, but somehow inevitable. As pledge week grimly proceeds, issues arise in Jericho's mind and his trumpet-playing serves as an outlet for his confusion, but readers will see with crystal clarity that in secrecy, evil breeds. (Fiction. YA)