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Kindness for Weakness [Kindle Edition]

Shawn Goodman
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $16.99
Kindle Price: $7.99
You Save: $9.00 (53%)
Sold by: Random House LLC

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Hardcover $12.52  
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Book Description

In an environment where kindness equals weakness, how do those who care survive?

A Tayshas Reading List Pick
An  ALA-YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults Book
“Shawn Goodman takes us inside the gritty world of our juvenile justice system with the verve of a master storyteller.” —Jordan Sonnenblick, author of Drums, Girls & Dangerous Pie
“A gripping story of a boy’s climb to manhood on his own terms.” —Paul Volponi, author of The Final Four
“The reader will be seized by [the boy’s] plight and his determination not only to survive, but to better himself.” —Todd Strasser, author of Give a Boy a Gun
Kindness for Weakness is a daring, dazzling leap into the dark passage that is the journey to manhood.” —Paul Griffin, author of The Orange Houses
“Gripping action, gritty dialogue, vivid characters, and palpable tension permeate the brief chapters of James’s powerful, honest, compelling narrative.” —School Library Journal

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

When 15-year-old James dutifully attempts to deliver drugs for his older brother, whom he idolizes, he is caught by police, convicted, and sentenced to a year in juvenile prison. In the novel that follows, Goodman offers a searing indictment of the so-called juvenile justice system, in which any attempt at kindness is perceived as weakness. Goodman is notably successful at stirring up a visceral reaction from the reader at the flagrant injustices that James encounters, and he does an interesting thing by contrasting James’ experiences with those of Humphrey Van Weyden, the protagonist of Jack London’s classic novel The Sea Wolf (1904). Will James, who perceives himself as “a skinny, friendless loser,” be able to transform himself, or will his bête noire, the system itself, prove to be his undoing? James’ first-person voice tends to be uneven and lacks authenticity, but, once again, the story it tells is a powerful one, though its ending, which seems to contradict much that has gone before, is bound to leave readers wondering. Grades 8-12. --Michael Cart

Review Book Club Pick, May 31, 2013
"Kindness for Weakness is about a guy with a painful past you'll be rooting for from beginning to end...In this coming-of-age tale, kind-hearted James struggles to resist the all-consuming vicious cycle of cruelty in the prison."

Starred Review, School Library Journal, June 2013:
"Gripping action, gritty dialogue, vivid characters, and palpable tension permeate the brief chapters of James‘s powerful, honest, compelling narrative."

Kirkus Reviews
, April 1, 2013:
"Goodman’s background as a school psychologist is evident in his deeply felt characters and well-realized setting.Readers who are not familiar with the often-harsh conditions of the juvenile justice system will receive a realistic and compelling examination of adolescent life behind bars."

Publishers Weekly, April 15, 2013
“Goodman, who has worked inside such facilities himself, expresses harsh criticism of the juvenile justice system while telling a deeply personal story of an abused teen’s struggles to free himself from the constraints preventing him from reaching his goals. James’s expanding perception of the world inside and outside of the facility gives insight into the perpetuation of teen violence.”

Library Media Connection:
"The book is filled with action but James is always aware of who he is and who he could become in life if given a chance."

“Shawn Goodman takes us inside the gritty world of our juvenile justice system with the authority of an expert, the unsparing eye of a social reformer, and the verve of a master storyteller.” —Jordan Sonnenblick, the author of Drums, Girls & Dangerous Pie

“A gripping story of a boy’s climb to manhood on his own terms” —Paul Volponi, author of The Final Four

“The main character, James, is an authentic young man with real feelings and fears, and the reader will be seized by his plight and determination not only to survive, but to better himself.” —Todd Strasser, author of Give a Boy a Gun

"Shawn Goodman leaves his huge heart on every page of this brave and truly beautiful novel. Kindness for Weakness is a daring dazzling leap into the dark passage that is the journey to manhood." —Paul Griffin, author of The Orange Houses

Product Details

  • File Size: 1110 KB
  • Print Length: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers (May 14, 2013)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00A9ET4M2
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #349,282 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great book for troubled teens May 15, 2013
By Sarah
Shawn Goodman's sophomore release, Kindness for Weakness, made me feel an array of emotions: hope, grief, dismay, and more. I absolutely loved Something Like Hope, so when I featured Kindness for Weakness on Waiting on Wednesday, Shawn offered to send me an ARC of it. I had requested a copy via NetGalley, and hadn't received a response yet, so I accepted his kind offer. Regardless of how I received a copy of this book, I thoroughly enjoyed it and can't wait to offer it to my students.

What I like most about Shawn Goodman's writing is how honest and real it is. He works with troubled kids as a school psychologist and it's evident in his writing. He really understands what teens are going through and how much they suffer. He understands what a bad home life can do to a teen. He knows how difficult it is for troubled teens to trust themselves and others. The characters in Something Like Hope and Kindness for Weakness display this deep understanding.

James is a character I cheered for while reading. He's really trying to find his way and learn what it means to be a man, to stand up himself, and how to trust himself and those around him. His mom is basically absent, her boyfriend Ron is abusive, and his brother isn't the best role model. Thankfully James has an encouraging English teacher, but he's really the only supportive person James has at the beginning of the story. He has so much potential if only he believed himself and had support outside of school. James's character made me think of students I have at school. He's a good kid that's stuck in a bad situation and ultimately makes poor choices because of this. The reader, fortunately, can see his potential and goodness even if James can't.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brace your heart. February 4, 2014
By J. Star
First, I’m obliged to offer a word of advice to anyone about to click “Add to Cart”:

Add it to your cart. When you’re ready to read it, clear your life and make room for it. Clear your head. Clear your heart, as much as a heart is a part of you that can be cleared. Open the book. Start to read.

Here’s the advice.

Don’t read this book in one sitting.

You’ll be tempted. And you can do it; it’s not that long.

But don’t do it.

Because it will *so* much. In the back of your mind, with that fraction of self that coexists with a narrative as you read, you’ll wish for just one tiny slip on Shawn Goodman’s part that will drop you out of the story, for only a moment, so you can catch your breath and remember you aren’t locked in Morton with James and surrounded by a brutal, love-starved reality that contains only the barest amount of kindness necessary to stop you from being crushed.

You need space from this story. From the space James takes up in your heart. You need to put this down and live your life and then come back to it, rinse and repeat, so you can breathe enough to finish it.

You can understand a story with your head, or with your heart, or both. If you read this in one sitting, it’s gonna whack you in the feels so hard your head won’t work. And you need your head to get the point of this book. To understand that sometimes, a sliver of kindness is harder to bear than none at all—but it still tips the scales to the good. It’s still worth the struggle. Because a world without kindness is also without light, and a life without light is not worth living.

So don’t read it in one sitting. Unless you enjoy the sensation of your heart exploding into shards of glass in your chest.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five stars, but not without flaws. Read it anyway! July 14, 2013
James is a somewhat shy, very skinny teen living in upstate New York. His mother and stepfather are one-note "bad examples" and he's been the target of bullies. Perfect set up for a bad ending, and that's just what James gets: Arrested by page 44. He is sent to a cruel (but perhaps not unrealistic) detention center, with some rotten kids and even rottener guards. Luckily, amid the sometimes not-so-subtle "teachable moments" author Shawn Goodman has placed complex and redeeming influences like Mr. Pfeffer, Mr. E, and Samson. He has also written James as a kid with a decent heart, who probably would thrive and become a contributing member of society given even half a chance. Instead of treating the school janitor to a coffee, or flirting with a waitress before school, or discussing Sea Wolf with a teacher who believes in him, he finds himself taunted with gay slurs, laying low when fights break out, and held in cruel restraints.

James is an extremely well-drawn and complex character. The phrase "kindness for weakness" (and mistaking one for the other) is a spot-on way to encapsulate many of the issues that James faces, as a basically decent, scared guy who's made some mistakes and is in over his head, paying a high price for what might be just as fairly be framed as teenage bad judgement, awkwardness and misplaced bravado.

This book is a fast read, with short chapters and a fair amount of action. The book is not a "happy ending" sort of story --be sure to read the author' two-page note at the end of the book.

About me: I'm a middle school/high school librarian.
How I got this book: purchased for the library.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars I love this book!!!!!
This book is so deep and heartfelt--- i nearly cried. I love it because it shows what its like to be a kid in the dangerous real world and really gets you thinking. Read more
Published 6 months ago by MikeZaira
5.0 out of 5 stars Good book
I loved the book. Very intriguing the beginning of the book really hooks you. The way the book ends just breakers your heart.
Published 10 months ago by Random
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book. How to be strong when others are weak.
Turn your cheek. Yes, we have all heard the saying but who can actually do that when the chips are down. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Live Outside
4.0 out of 5 stars Golden for Reluctant Readers
Please Note: I received this book for free from ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Kim G
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Read!
I just loved this book. The way it is written is accessible but not dumbed-down or falsely "hip". It doesn't pander or preach but tells a beautifully touching story in a succinct... Read more
Published 16 months ago by KarieME
5.0 out of 5 stars A Book for Discussion
Written by someone who knows his setting and characters well, this book tracks an original course through well-trod territory. It's a book that begs for sharing and discussing.
Published 17 months ago by Gaby Chapman
4.0 out of 5 stars Powerful and Realistic
I really wasn't sure what to think about Kindness For Weakness going into it, but I ended up really loving it. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Waiting For Wentworth
4.0 out of 5 stars Gripping, depressing
A great look at what happens when a kid falls through the cracks and must pay for his actions. It's a brutal, depressing book, but so is the penal system. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Brian Katcher
4.0 out of 5 stars Finding Out the Hard way!
This book details what happens when poor decisions lead to incarciration and the physical and emotional toll it takes on the human spirit. It is exciting a deeply moving.
Published 17 months ago by Bruce Lauton
3.0 out of 5 stars Unfair ending
I hated the ending, unsure of our hero's fate. Especially objectionable since the book is written in the first person. Otherwise, pretty good.
Published 18 months ago by ernest drown
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More About the Author

Shawn Goodman is a writer and school psychologist. His experiences working in several New York State juvenile detention facilities inspired Something Like Hope. He has been an outspoken advocate for juvenile justice reform, and has written and lectured on issues related to special education, foster care, and literacy. Shawn lives in Ithaca, New York, with his wife and children.

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