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Boot Camp Paperback – March 6, 2012

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 8 Up—In this vivid and realistic novel, Strasser describes the horrifying violence and injustices experienced by teens sent to a disciplinary boot camp at the behest of their parents. Abducted by transporters in the middle of the night, 15-year-old Garrett finds himself handcuffed in the back of a car trying to make sense of why he is being sent to a facility for troubled teens. Convinced that he does not belong in Lake Harmony, he has difficulty conforming to the camp's standards. As a result, he is subjected to continuous physical and mental abuse. Drawn in by two other students, Garrett takes part in an ambitious plot to escape this never-ending "behavior modification." Throughout the story, readers are given a strong sense of the hopelessness the teen feels, especially when he realizes that he is completely isolated from anyone who can help him. The ending is both realistic and disturbing as his fate at Lake Harmony is revealed. Writing in the teen's mature and perceptive voice, Strasser creates characters who will provoke strong reactions from readers. While most teens will undoubtedly identify with the protagonist's sense of being misunderstood by his parents, many will be outraged by the manipulation, torture, and hopelessness experienced by the residents at Lake Harmony. However, all of them will certainly find themselves engrossed in this fast-paced and revealing story about the hidden side of teenage incarceration.—Lynn Rashid, Marriots Ridge High School, Marriotsville, MD
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

Louis Sachar's Holes (1998) described a juvenile detention camp with tall-tale trappings. For a somewhat older audience, this documentary-style novel tackles similar "boot camps" without the fablelike buffer, delivering a troubling glimpse of what might go on in such camps (and backing it up with an author's note and sources). Garrett, 15, is trapped in the "secret prison system for teenagers" when his controlling parents, enraged by his affair with a teacher, are lured by the promise of a boot-camp brochure: "The child who returns from the Lake Harmony experience is the child you always knew you had." Once at the camp, Garrett endures a battery of brainwashing techniques, including physical abuse, and eventually meets two other desperate teens who want to escape. Some plot elements don't add up; it's hard to believe, for instance, that the one supportive adult Garrett encounters—a warden—would let the camp continue without blowing the whistle. But as in Strasser's Give a Boy a Gun (2000), the real-world issues will hit a nerve. Mattson, Jennifer --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers; Reprint edition (March 6, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9781442433588
  • ISBN-13: 978-1442433588
  • ASIN: 1442433582
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #472,906 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Todd Strasser is the author of more than 120 novels for YA and middle graders. His YA novels including such award winners as No Place, If I Grow Up, Boot Camp, Can't Get There From Here, Give a Boy a Gun, Wish You Were Dead, Blood on My Hands, Kill You Last, the Impact Zone series, and the DriftX series.

His books for middle graders include Abe Lincoln for Class President, Byte Barkley: Secret agent K-9, Don't Get Caught in the Girls' Locker Room, Grizzly Attack, and the best-selling 17-book Help! I'm Trapped in ... series.

His most recent novel for grades 5 and up, FALLOUT, received a stellar review in the New York Times and was named a must-read middle school book by School Library Journal.

Todd lives in a suburb of New York and speaks frequently at schools.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By TeensReadToo on May 27, 2007
Format: Hardcover
It seems that every time I turn on the TV, there is some program about teen boot camps or wilderness survivals programs designed to straighten out even the most delinquent of teens. Todd Strasser, author of Give a Boy a Gun and Can't Get There from Here, has written a book that takes the reader inside the boot camp experience.

Garrett is from a rich family and goes to a good private school where he is a straight-A student headed for an Ivy League college. He has experimented with smoking pot, but he's definitely not a "pothead." According to his parents, his one unforgivable offense is his sexual relationship with one of his teachers, a woman eight years his senior. According to Garrett, his choices just don't reflect what they want from his life. He thinks his grades and the fact that he stays out of trouble should be enough for them, but because of Garrett's refusal to end his relationship with the teacher, his parents send him to Lake Harmony.

Lake Harmony's staff practically guarantees success. They promise to take any wayward teen and make them the child their parents always wanted to have. On the surface this sounds like quite a deal; however, the teens learn quickly what lies beneath the surface. Lake Harmony offers nothing but torture, brainwashing, poor living conditions, disgusting food, and limited parental contact. Teens in the program spend anywhere from one to three years suffering in this boot camp until most are finally released with broken, damaged spirits.

Strasser takes readers inside the camp where they meet Garrett, Pauly, and Sarah.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Cameron-Smith on May 2, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Garrett Durrell (aged 15) is sent to a disciplinary boot camp, ironically named Lake Harmony, by his parents. While Garrett initially thinks that all he needs to do is follow the rules in order to be released, he soon learns that it is not that simple. How does Garrett survive, and can he remain true to himself in the process?

This novel covers a number of issues important to teenagers, and to their parents. I am naive enough to hope that those reading the novel will discuss it, and their own reactions to it, with others. Neither parents, nor teenagers, have all of the answers to all of the questions all of the time. But how we confront problems says a lot about the society in which we live and the people we choose to be.

I found reading this novel a confronting and, ultimately, uplifting experience. I suspect that different people will have different reactions but I would dearly love to know how teenagers feel about it. As the parent of an adult child, I miss an opportunity to share reading and discussing this novel with a member of the target audience.

Perhaps the most important lesson in this novel is that no human is infallible, and no process is perfect.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful By N. S. VINE VOICE on June 16, 2007
Format: Hardcover
"We stop before a tall chain-link fence topped with loops of razor wire. A man steps out of a small white booth and shines a flashlight into the car. Rebecca shields her eyes from the glare. I have to turn my face. The man seems to recognize Harry. He unlocks the gate and we drive through, past a dark basketball court and a bare flagpole, and pull into a gravel parking lot.

" 'Here we are.' Harry jumps out of the car with unexpected energy after the long ride. He comes around to my door and pulls me out with a firm grip. After sitting in that awkward position for so long, my legs and back are stiff, and I straighten up unsteadily. But I also feel a brief wave of relief, as standing temporarily takes the excruciating pressure off my bladder, which has felt near bursting for at least half an hour. I shake out my legs and glance around.

" 'Trust me, blue blood, don't be thinking about running, Harry warns. 'Even if you got through the fence, there's nothing but forest out there. You're so far away from civilization, you'll starve before you see another human being.'

"The air is cool and smells like pine. The chatter of the crickets is almost as loud as traffic on a city street. In the dark I can make out four or five buildings, none more than two stories tall.

"Then the crickets go silent.

"And I hear the screaming."

As Todd Strasser explains in his Afterword, there is a secret prison system for teenagers in the U.S. Any parent with enough money can place his or her child in this prison system for any reason or for no reason. The facilities are called boot camps. The methodology in these prison camps can include physical and psychological torture, along with total isolation from people and information out in the real world.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Amanda J. Henning on August 22, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I was completely immersed in this book from the first page! High schooler Garrett is kidnapped by "transporters" in the middle of the night and sent to the ironically named Lake Harmony which is actually a teen boot camp. Garrett is subjected to an ever-increasing level of abuse at the hands of other detainees (who have already been brain washed by the camp) and counselors until he and two other prisoners hatch a dangerous escape plan. The novel is told in the first person and Garrett's experiences are shocking and realistically drawn.

As I mentioned on a previous comment, I was surprised at the lack of adult content in this novel (considering the subject matter). There is very little cursing, no sexual content, and the violence is in keeping with the theme of the story. Although this book certainly wouldn't be appropriate for younger kids (if for no other reason than the difficult themes represented), I would highly recommend this book for teens and particularly reluctant readers. After page 100, I was glued to this book.. if reluctant readers react to it with anywhere close to the same level of enthusiasm, they're in for an exciting and harrowing story!
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