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Summary: Lutie is an honors high school student whose mom is an absentee crackhead. Doria is a musical prodigy on the social outskirts. Kelvin is a charming slacker. Train is bad news for everyone.
Personal Reaction: Expertly woven story that had me crying at the climax. Cooney’s Diamonds in the Shadow had nothing on this one in the religious tone. I’m not religious, so I really thought I was going to get tired of this, quick. But it works. It’s NECESSARY. I just loved it. (SSYRA committee… are you listening?)
Curriculum or discussion topics: character ed (be the change); I think the Trains of this world will never visit the library to pick this up, but if used as a read aloud in a low level class, it might touch someone. Heck, maybe it would even get the advanced kids to think. Good choice for church youth group read.
Cautions: I’m so worried that this will introduce a wave of keyring “borrowing” in the Trains who aren’t moved to change… kids leave their backpacks around all the time.
Connections to other books: Coping With a Drug Abusing Parent by Clayton; The Kid’s Guide to Service Projects: Over 500 Service Ideas for Young People Who Want to Make a Difference by Lewis; Terrence’s character in The Juvie Three by Korman; for more books with a Christian theme, try author Stephanie Perry Moore
Items to display with book: sheet music, photos of piano/electric keyboard/organ, keychain with keys (treble clef keyring/charm if possible), cell phone, text message “STOP” or stop sign, orange prisoner uniform or photo of juvie inmates, glass eyeball, empty cigarette lighter, cell phone
Food items connected to story: Thin Mints cookies, frosted cookies, rice casserole, green beans, sweet tea, lemon bars