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Juvie Hardcover – October 8, 2013

7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Bleak. That’s what six months locked up in juvie looks like for 17-year-old Sadie. She isn’t anything like the conniving, lethal girls in surrounding cells. Sadie’s first and only offense was inadvertently trafficking drugs while carting home her strung-out teen-mom sister, Carla. Sadie took the fall to keep Carla out of adult jail and her beloved niece, Lulu, out of foster care. But heroism doesn’t dull Sadie’s fear or her longing: for Lulu, for her motorcycle, for a promising basketball career, for an erstwhile boyfriend. Watkins (What Comes After, 2011) has created a compelling first-person narrative anchored on Sadie’s self-reflection: “Just when you start to feel good about your life because of some little thing that might go well, there are fifty other reminders about where you are and where you’re going to be for a long time, and how you got here, and what everybody back home thinks about you now, and will probably think about you for the rest of your life.” A haunting story of loyalty, regret, and the fervent hope for second chances. Grades 9-12. --Lexi Walters Wright


In the midst of the terrible reality, realistically tiny glimmers of hope shine like candles fighting the darkness. A bleakly optimistic reminder to hold on to what is good.
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Watkins offers a frank view of life in a juvenile detention center... Little by little, a multi-dimensional portrait of Sadie emerges, exposing her vulnerabilities and struggles with the mistakes she’s made... [A]bsorbing and wrenching.
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Candlewick (October 8, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0763655090
  • ISBN-13: 978-0763655099
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #341,963 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Kelly on October 23, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Sadie Windas is a responsible kid: a high school junior, talented basketball player, devoted girlfriend, and reliable daughter. Her older sister Carla, on the other hand? Not so much. A selfish single mother with substance abuse issues, Carla relies on her sister and their mother for lots of help in raising her three-year-old daughter Lulu. When Carla and Sadie are arrested by an undercover cop for their alleged roles in a drug transaction -- which is truly a case of stupidity and wrong-place wrong-time factors -- Carla faces a minimum of four years in prison. Not wanting to see her niece grow up without a mother, Sadie makes a risky sacrifice: she takes responsibility for a crime she didn't commit so that her sister can go free. Now she'll be spending the next six months in juvie.

The scenes alternate between the incidents in the juvenile detention facility and the events in Sadie's life up to and immediately following her arrest. As I've mentioned before, I used to work in an alternative high school. I'm not saying that I know what goes on in juvie, but I know what went on at my school, and this book seems pretty spot-on to me. There are "accidental" injuries, chairs being thrown, escapes attempted...and if a fight erupts, all of a sudden half the room is fighting and getting out weeks of pent-up slights and frustrations.

The plot moves at a good pace, and the transitions back to Sadie's pre-juvie days give the reader time to breathe before delving back into the suffocating atmosphere of the detention center.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Maria Beadnell on January 13, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Not a promising start when the summary says the main character didn't do the crime.

The phrase "only guilty man in Shawshank" comes to mind.

This is no shallow "bad teen learns the error of her ways," tome, though. It is a relative of those books, but is a much superior story.

Watkins certainly understands and respects teens, even the ones with horrible challenges. He tells the story in the first person, alternating between before and during the main character's detention, showing the sad beginning that created the bad choices, yet giving us hope that (truly) Sadie might have learned the changing lessons she needs.

[spoiler alert] Watkins slowly and carefully makes the case that Sadie's taking the fall for her sister is not a selfless act of love, but in its way as dishonest as anything that put the others in juvie. Good quote: "Maybe not being guilty wasn't the same as being innocent." Ouch.
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Format: Hardcover
I feel a little apathetic about this book. Which is not a good feeling! I like strong emotions about books. I like to be sure and confident about my opinion. But after I finished Juvie by Steve Watkins…I put it down and drew a blank. LET ME EXPLAIN.

It’s definitely a good read, but it doesn’t have much plot. It’s a tortoise in a peanut butter jar, my friends. It bounces between past (the lead up to jail) and present (in jail). But we got all the facts up front. There were no “BUT WAIT. SOMETHING ELSE HAPPENED AND IT WILL BLOW YOUR MIND.” No. From chapter one everything was laid on the table and the book just unravelled. I felt bored.

The jist of the story is Sadie takes the fall for a crime she doesn’t commit to keep her (awful) sister out of jail. The sister, Carla, has a 3-year-old daughter and they don’t want to break up the family. (Although, to be honest, Sadie looked after the baby more than Carla.)

It definitely describes life in Juvie! So if you were thinking of going (ha ha, I kid, I kid) just, um, just don’t. THE FOOD IS BAD. Although life in the detention centre was pretty mellow, actually. Sadie stayed in the background, didn’t choose sides, kept out of fights. She’s basically perfect, with her only “fault” being a mothering instinct. The prison guards are awful and the food sucks and the girls are nasty. Unfun.

BUT WAIT! DON’T LEAVE YET! While I found the book a little mellow, it was still definitely interesting. Sadie is a sweet protagonist with a tough side (such a refreshing personality to read!) and she is adorable with her niece as well as rides a motorcycle and is all round tough. Also: SHE WENT TO PRISON FOR HER SISTER. Wow. That’s sisterly dedication and it’s admirable.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I'm a fan of Steve Watkins. His writing style brings the story alive. I was unable to put Juvie down until I read the final word. The war on drugs is a necessary war, but instead of targeting and punishing the people who are truly at fault, it's more likely the poor, young people like Sadie who are going to jail. Hopefully they survive the sophomoric antics of undereducated, street smart inmates while paying the price for being a victim. Hopefully, once they've done the time they can re-enter society and not return. Meanwhile, those who are really at fault live lives of luxury. This story may be fiction, but it could be the story of many our young people today.
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