Thursday, May 19, 2011

Boy Against THE MAN: Dirt Road Home

I'm continuing my path through the 2010 Cybil finalists.  Somehow I put my hold for the first YA Fiction finalist on a freeze pattern, and then uncovered a bug in the new library software by being unable to release it when I got back from vacation.  Eventually I dropped and recreated the hold, and soon Watt Key's Dirt Road Home came to my house.

Hal is facing up to some bad choices in his youth. Only fifteen, he's turned himself into the law knowing he'll be sent to Hellenweiller, the juvenile hall for dangerous, irredeemable boys.  He's determined to go straight; he and his father have promised each other to reform. What Hal doesn't expect, however, is that corrupt officials at Hellenweiller see it as their duty to keep any of their "boys" from returning to the outside world, and they are willing to document anything they need, true or false, to keep any boy from achieving parole.

The boys in the home divide into two rival games, most of the youth completely oblivious to the adults pushing them toward violence between each other, both as an excuse to keep everyone locked up and to justify the occasional attacks by the guards.  Hal's extreme, rather incredible, self-restraint bring him to the attention of the better sort of boys, who have mostly given up hope after their years in the home.  The book is labeled a companion book to Alabama Moon, and I suspect it would read better if I had read that first; a lot of Hal's journey takes place there, I think, and I might believe him more if I had seen the transformation from angry boy into determined adolescent.  I'll put that on my TBR list.  B-

The link to Amazon (never used as far as I can tell) should benefit the Cybils committee.

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