Juvie by Steve Watkins Book Review

Juvie by Steve Watkins

Sadie was in the wrong place at the wrong time. After going to a party Sadie finds herself in the car with a very drunk and high sister and two losers who insist that she take them to a local convenience store. Before she knows what is happening she is caught up in a drug bust and soon her carefully planned future is spiraling out of control. In order to save her sister from being locked up and to protect her niece Lulu, Sadie agrees to lie and say she knew about the drug sale. As a first-time offender she was only supposed to get probation and some community service, but when the judge demands she give him the names of the two guys (who she doesn't know), Sadie is sent to Juvie for 6 months. What are the chances that Sadie can ever get her life back together again? Will her sister clean up her act? And what is the difference between not guilty and not innocent?

First off, I must admit that I know very little about the correctional system either for adults or children. It is not a world that I have ever had to experience or be a part of. What little I do know is from television programs and documentaries, but since this is not a subject I am highly interested in, even that knowledge is limited. So I went to the best resource I knew to answer some of my questions, my husband, who worked as Corrections Office and has a degree in Criminology.

In the beginning I was confused by the set-up within the prison. All the children and teens placed in one cell block, the severity of the crime not seeming to be a factor, all treated equally harsh by the guards and wardens. My husband was quick to point out that even children can be violent and since a guard never knows when something may happen or when someone will hurt them, they must be vigilant at all times, treating everyone as a potential threat. Harsh to some, but then these people, both in this book and in real life, have done some really gruesome things and some don't blink an eyelash at hurting other people.

As for the story itself, I felt that the parts that took place in Juvie were very well done. We get to see Sadie as she ponders how she got to this place and what she wants to change as she moves forward. There are good people and bad people. Some may be innocent, most are not. There's the girl who poisoned a dog and shows no iota of remorse. The teen who shot her boyfriend in the hand. And you can't forget the young middle schooler who decided she wanted a bike so bad that she was willing to beat a little boy with a metal rod in order to get his.

However, I wasn't so caught up in the back story. Like Fallout by Todd Strasser the story bounces between the present (Juvie) to the past (events leading up to Juvie). However, much of the information that is told in the present was more than adequate for informational purposes and I found the back story did little to add to the characterization of Sadie or those close to her. It also slowed down the pacing sometimes. Honestly, I wanted more of Juvie. I wanted to see more of her classes, more action, perhaps a therapist of some kind (where were the therapists?), and more of a conclusion. The story ends at month 3 of the 6 month stint and I honestly felt a little jilted. I wanted to see Sadie leave. Instead, I feel like she was just left in jail and unless there is a sequel (not likely for this type of book) poor Sadie will always be in jail--stuck.