Title: Kindness for Weakness
Author: Shawn Goodman
Publication Date: May 14, 2013
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Age Rating: Readers above the age of 15 due to violence, language, and substance abuse
My Opinion: 10/10
This is a big day for me - my first 10/10 rating for a book review! Not even my absolute favorite books have earned this extremely high honor, and for a realistic fiction novel that I had never heard of to come and snatch up the first 10/10 is a big deal. Kindness for Weakness, by Shawn Goodman, made me laugh, (almost) cry, and fall in love with all of the main characters. I had trouble falling to sleep after I read one of the chapters because I was so touched.
James is stuck living with his drug-addict mother and her boyfriend until his brother, Louis, offers him an escape through selling drugs. James is able to make some quick cash to buy food for his family until he is captured by the police. Louis immediately deserts James and leaves him to fend for himself in the confusing and scary world of the law. Quickly, James is sentenced to juvie. He must use all of his strength to get by in the prison for teens, and he has to deal with adversity both physically and mentally.
The story of James' struggle in the juvie system was extremely enlightening because it exposed the utter truths about juvenile prisons. For example, James is excessively physically punished by the security guards, and then they force him to sign a waver stating that the punishment was necessary. Also, Goodman touches on issues such as being an outsider in juvie through characters that have different physical appearances or sexual orientations. Depression, anxiety, and suicide are also prominently portrayed.
Although the novel has so many deep issues to address, Goodman captured my attention through his excellent creation of characters. Each boy in James' juvie group had a different personality that reflected on their family life and upbringing.
By the end of the novel, I felt emotionally attached to James and his story. I recommend this book to both teens and adults alike because everybody would benefit from reading Kindness for Weakness.
Happy New Year!