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Unchained
     

Unchained

by L.B. Tillit
 

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Themes: Hi-Lo, Drug use, foster care, gangs. Low-level teen fiction tackling tough and gritty topics like foster care, rape, teen pregnancy and more. Series contains two silver medal winners for the Independent Publishers Book Award—and a Moonbeam Children's Book Award. Each novel is approximately 200-pages. Lexile Levels: 390 to 400. After two years

Overview

Themes: Hi-Lo, Drug use, foster care, gangs. Low-level teen fiction tackling tough and gritty topics like foster care, rape, teen pregnancy and more. Series contains two silver medal winners for the Independent Publishers Book Award—and a Moonbeam Children's Book Award. Each novel is approximately 200-pages. Lexile Levels: 390 to 400. After two years in a loving home, TJ's mother got him back. She was clean. No pot. No meth. His chest felt like it was burning. His heart was racing. Trapped. He felt trapped. He didn't have a say. Everything he had come to care about would be gone: Miss Dixie, hot meals, friends, Mae's little hand, and Annabelle. And the brutal life he'd escaped quickly reclaimed him. Kaden Cruz didn't run after him. Instead his voice boomed, "You owe us." TJ didn't look back. But he knew this wasn't the end of Kaden Cruz. He could still hear his father's voice. "It's not free. You'll have to pay them back one day." Silver medal winner of an Independent Publishers Book Award.

Editorial Reviews

VOYA - Matthew Weaver
TJ's parents are unreliable drug addicts who spend their days in a haze. TJ gets himself to school each day, but he is also ripe for the plucking when the neighborhood gang, the Hillside Vipers, are looking for new drug dealers. TJ is heading deeper into that lifestyle, certainly, but when his father dies, he is sent to live with kindly Miss Dixie; her son, Prince; battered redhead Annabelle; and little Mae, who cuts through his bravado and bluster with sweetness. TJ is headed down the right path, but when his mother gets clean two years later, he must return to his life, and members of the gang are still eager to have him join their ranks. Unchained is part of Saddleback's Gravel Road series, designed to highlight urban street authors. A middle school teacher in North Carolina, Tillit shows an innate understanding of TJ's world and an uncanny ability to get inside the head of an African American teenage boy. She does not shy away from the more shocking aspects of this world, but she does not paint them provocatively, either. We know exactly where TJ is coming from at all times, which might just help readers reach out to the possible TJs in their own lives or build themselves up to avoid a similar situation. Unchained is unflinching, yet it is also undeniably important. Reviewer: Matthew Weaver
Kirkus Reviews
In an unnamed city, the son of drug-addicted parents finds a loving foster home, then loses everything. Part of the publisher's Gravel Road line, which produces a junior version of "urban street lit" aimed at reluctant readers, the book is attractively packaged with a photographic cover, a small trim and plenty of white space on its pages. Sentences are short and vocabulary simple, but narrator TJ's voice is expressive, even though some complexity is sacrificed to move the story forward. TJ's ambivalence toward his family is clear from the first evocative scene, in which a fight between 5-year-old TJ and his father ends in laughter. His relationship to the Hillside Vipers, a gang that recruits TJ when he is 13, also rings true: TJ joins the gang because he is afraid not to. The emotional center of the book is Miss Dixie, the boundlessly warm proprietor of a group home where TJ lives after the state separates him from his family. Although the redemptive relationships TJ builds at Miss Dixie's are compelling, Miss Dixie's promise that TJ "will always have a place here" seems hard to believe, given how many young people need foster care. Despite a few oversimplifications, this is a thoughtful and accessible story about the many meanings--positive and negative--of family. (Fiction. 12-15)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781616517922
Publisher:
Saddleback Educational Publishing
Publication date:
01/01/2012
Series:
Gravel Road Series
Pages:
197
Product dimensions:
4.20(w) x 6.90(h) x 0.70(d)
Lexile:
HL400L (what's this?)
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

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