Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Juvie Three by Gordon Korman

Everyone wants a second chance at something. Students like second chances at assignments, teachers like second chances with lessons, and I'd personally like a second chance at Super Bowl XXXII. Unfortunately, second chances are rather hard to come by.

But in The Juvie Three, Gecko, Arjay, and Terrance get their second chance. At life.

Gecko is the forgotten younger brother in his family, the talented, underage getaway driver for his older brother Rueben's crime sprees. When a robbery ends up with a stolen Infiniti on its roof, Gecko is sent to juvie. His family, however, seems only concerned with Rueben. Gecko is basically forgotten.

Arjay is a mammoth fifteen-year-old. Six-foot-five, 260 pounds, and his only crime is not playing football. Taunted mercilessly by the football team to play, Arjay once...once...fights back, by pushing the popular quarterback. The team captain falls, hits his head, and Arjay is convicted of manslaughter. Juvie? Not for kids six-five, 260. Adult prison.

Terrance grew up under the watch of an abusive father and the city streets of Chicago. He knows how to survive - how to play the game of street criminals. He knows, man. (Just ask him.) Given the opportunity to leave his detention facility, he views his second chance only as chance to escape.

All three boys are now under the watchful eye of Douglas Healy, a former juvenile delinquent himself. He has worked tirelessly to set up a second chance for these three boys, a sort of half-way house where they can go to school, work community service, and develop as young men.

Gecko and Arjay recognize the opportunity they’ve been given. Terrence sees opportunity, all right, but not to straighten up. He sees a chance to hit it big in a bigger city than Chicago. New York.

The three boys futures are tied to one another. If one screws up, they’re all back in the system. When an accident sends Healy to the hospital, the boys plan to continue following their schedule without any supervision, thereby creating the illusion of supervision. Each, however, faces temptations that may draw unwanted attention to their situation. Gecko meets a young lady while volunteering at a local hospital. Arjay's musical ability is noticed by a music teacher and New York's underground music scene. Terrance meets DeAndre and is tempted with acceptance into DeAndre's crew.

It's a house of cards getting higher and higher – and more precarious – as time passes following Healy’s accident. Soon the boys realize they need to get their leader back before anyone realizes they have no leader, and another plan develops that could end with all of them back where they started. Or worse.

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