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Rikers High Hardcover – February 4, 2010


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 790L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers; 1 edition (February 4, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 067001107X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670011070
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #791,507 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 8 Up—Martin Stokes is awaiting trial at Rikers Island, a New York City correctional facility. His alleged crime is steering: telling an undercover police officer where to buy marijuana in his neighborhood. Riding back to Rikers on a bus after his court date is rescheduled, Martin gets caught between two boys fighting and is cut in the face with a blade. He is assigned to a new unit, and the cut is both the first thing the boys in Sprung #3 notice about him and a metaphor for the indelible mark that prison will leave. In the new unit, Martin attends school for the first time on the Island. The plot is episodic, reflecting both the repetitiveness of daily existence in jail and its instability: one day the house is enjoying the fruits of its commissary visit; the next, the boys are being strip-searched after an apathetic teacher loses his metal chalk holder. Volponi, himself a teacher on Rikers Island for six years, brings to life a believable range of teachers, COs, and inmates and portrays power, hierarchies, and race relations both outside and inside the jail walls with unflinching realism. Martin's narrative voice is frank, conversational, and sometimes angry, and his language, including cursing, is perfectly suited to his character. Physical violence, masturbation, and suicide are all addressed honestly, and teen boys will relate.—Megan Honig, New York Public Library
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Recasting his specialty-press debut novel, Rikers (2002), for a younger audience, Volponi tracks a juvenile offender’s final 17 days in the New York correctional facility. Though arrested just for telling an undercover cop where to buy weed, Martin has spent five months at Rikers waiting for his case to come up. The experience has made him a canny observer of the prison ecosystem, good at keeping his head down and steering clear of gangs, extortion schemes, brutal correction officers, and other hazards . . . mostly. The author draws authentic situations and characters from his six years of teaching at Rikers, and though his scary cautionary tale is less harrowing than Adam Rapp’s Buffalo Tree (1997) or Walter Dean Myers’ Monster (1999), it is nevertheless an absorbing portrait of life in stir. In the end, Martin walks out on plea-bargained probation, bearing both inner and outer scars. Rare is the reader who won’t find his narrative sobering. Grades 8-11. --John Peters

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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See all 9 customer reviews
The story is gritty, but the language is tamer in this novel than in previous books.
YA Librarian
RIKERS HIGH- first published in 2002 as RIKERS - was the first book published by Volponi - and the last one for me to read.
Milw. Writer
Author Paul Volponi's real-life experience working with kids behind bars is the inspiration for RIKERS HIGH.
TeensReadToo

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By YA Librarian on February 9, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This novel is different than his other ones because it takes place in prison instead of on the streets. Martin Stokes was arrested when he told an undercover cop where to buy drugs. He then found himself shipped off to Rikers to await trial..a trial that is taking far too long.

What happens next is Martin's experiences in prison. There are so many subjects that are touched upon including loneliness, race relations, how the young inmates feel and their pecking order. What's great about this book is Mr. Volponi taught at Rikers. He saw what happened to these young teens as they struggle to make it out or get caught up in the system. The story is gritty, but the language is tamer in this novel than in previous books. Once again everything is touched upon including the sensitive subject of suicide. Mr. Volponi's characters feel real, which I think is one of the reasons male students like to read his novels.

I enjoyed this book and I think students looking for urban, realistic fiction will enjoy Rikers High.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By TeensReadToo on August 5, 2011
Format: Paperback
Author Paul Volponi's real-life experience working with kids behind bars is the inspiration for RIKERS HIGH. His work teaching adolescent inmates to read and write help give this novel a realistic tone that will speak to teen as well as adult readers.

Martin is weeks away from being released from Rikers Island. He earned his time there for giving an undercover cop information about where to buy drugs. Even though he viewed it as an honest mistake, he was in handcuffs outside his front door before his mother had time to get out the door to ask questions.

As Martin tells his story, readers learn about life in the Rikers Island prison system. After spending some of his time in the adult population, Martin is moved to Sprung #3, which houses juvenile offenders. These young inmates attend school and hopefully spend their time in more productive activities than the older prisoners, but life is still rough and they face daily challenges - from uncooperative fellow prisoners and corrupt corrections officers.

Martin describes the violence, the "business" some inmates conduct to profit from their fellow prisoners, the mistreatment at the hands of those in charge, and the homesickness and worry about family members on the outside. All of this combines to create a tense, stressful environment where young men are still expected to learn in the classroom and maintain control of raging emotions.

Martin tries to keep his nose clean and focus on his release date, but he knows one wrong move or bad decision could end with a longer sentence and possibly a move back to the adult population. Trouble with his lawyer and a vicious attack that leaves him with a disfiguring facial scar make staying focused a real challenge.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Milw. Writer on July 20, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I now have read every book by "The King of Urban Fiction," Paul Volponi. RIKERS HIGH- first published in 2002 as RIKERS - was the first book published by Volponi - and the last one for me to read. Heart-stopping, powerful, exceptional, and REAL! These are just words that have no meaning unless you read this book.

A general comment:
I hope EVERYONE reads Volponi's books, including this one. He opens windows to society that few have the guts to see. Most shut their eyes tight and never give this part of our society even a nod. Volponi puts it out there and I'm certain that he's only given the reader a tiny bit of what he has seen and experienced through the years with what many of OUR urban youth face every single day. I don't know Volponi, but he doesn't seem like the kind of guy who walks around seeing himself as a hero - or even the type of guy who lives to be thanked... Even his picture shows him looking off to the side.

So, here's what think. Volponi's work as an author and teacher changes lives. He gives readers a gift and it's up to us to decide what to do with it. Do we walk away, maybe tell others what powerful books he's written, or do we do something in this world, big or small, to make it a little better for someone else? - Ultimately that's what Volponi's saying. Life can be really crappy (big time understatement) out there... What's truly valuable? I won't forget these books and I promise you that I will do something to honor Volponi to make this world a better place... When I do and soon (today or tomorrow) I will whisper - "Volponi this is in honor of you too - keep up the incredible work!"
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Format: Kindle Edition
I've read the full book of Rikers High and I would like to say that this is one of the best books that I have ever read its a good story about a 17 year old boy named Martin. Martin is charged with steering because an undercover cop asked him if he knew where he could get some drugs and Martin pointed to the drug dealers corner.Martin is locked up and keeps thinking about his family that needs him like his mother and his sisters, his father is in prison as well so Martin was the man of the house trying to protect the family even though he didn't have a job. For me I would seriously rather read his book then watch television because this talks about a boy's experience in a prison. This book is definitely not a waste of money so if i were you I would buy this book. The author Paul Volponi shows so much detail showing what would really happen being behind bars as a teenager. The author did a really good job with this book so I look forward to reading another one of his books My name is Henry and I'm 16 years old.
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