Gr 7 Up-This gritty compilation examines crime from the points of view of teenagers on the inside, those on the outside, and of a handful of adults involved in the juvenile justice system. Most riveting are the stories, poetry, and reflections of the diverse young people who are incarcerated. One 17-year-old girl is in for "participating in the murder of my best friend. She said she was going to steal my boyfriend." Other elements of the book are interviews with urban and suburban high school students, facts culled from newspaper articles (and printed with their datelines), interviews with professionals involved in juvenile justice, and an action-resource list. That people from urban, suburban, poor, and middle-class environments are represented reinforces the validity of the work. Some of the text is conveyed effectively in black-and-white cartoon segments interspersed with the text, providing interest and visual unity. Overall, the book is well organized, engrossing, and informative, and it provides glimpses of hope for those wishing to leave violence behind. Margaret Hyde's Kids In and Out of Trouble (Cobblehill, 1995) tackles the same topic, but can't compete for immediacy. This book will be welcomed by YAs whose lives are touched by violence as well as the adults who are concerned about them.-Carolyn Noah, Central Mass. Regional Library System, Worcester, MA
Sean tells us of the day he killed his mother, at age 13, and drove off in her car with two friends. Angela reminisces about how, by age 10, she had been initiated into prostitution and drugs by her mother and how, as a teen, she "knew alcohol and drugs could help smother my memories." Horrifying and heartbreaking, the testimonials in the first part of this volume convey the agony of broken lives. The speakers are teens, many in prison, who have been either the perpetrators or the victims of violence. Parts two and three offer accounts from professionals who work in the juvenile justice system and from teens who have incarcerated friends or relatives. Effectively complementing the narratives are sobering statistics, poems etched in desperation, and cartoon dialogues by coauthor Mack. In the tradition of Bode's "New Kids on the Block" (1989), about immigrant teens, and "Heartbreak and Roses" (1994), about troubled love, "Hard Time" both shocks the reader and provides a glimmer of hope, stemming from the few success stories inside the grim walls. A bibliography, a glossary, and lists of organizations are appended.