Juvie by Steve Watkins

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Juvie by Steve Watkins

Category: Teens
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Zoe Morris
Reviewed by Zoe Morris
Summary: Sadie is sent to juvie by mistake (really) but will she be able to maintain her innocence, and keep positive, during her time inside?
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 320 Date: January 2015
Publisher: Walker Books
ISBN: 978-1406358629

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With the title Juvie it’s clear what this book is going to be about, even before you've seen the orange jumpsuited figure on the cover. Sadie and Carla are sisters who are not much alike, but they look out for each other. So when Carla is at a party and finds herself at a situation, Sadie helps her out, against her better judgement. The two girls end up at the wrong place at the wrong time, and before they know it they're in court trying to clear their names. Carla has a history and so her sentence will be stiffer. It will put her away for some time, away from her young daughter in a way that no one wants. There is a way out, though. Sadie is, if not a good girl, then definitely the better sister. If she takes the blame, she'll likely get off with a caution for a first offence, no harm done. She'll be fine, and so will Carla and baby Lulu. It's not ideal, but she can take one for the team. Except things don't go to plan, and Sadie gets sent to, you've guessed it, juvenile detention for her supposed role in the crime.

This was a really good read set both inside and outside the youth offenders' institute. I personally favoured the chapters on the inside because it was a world away from anything I'd read before. Sure, I've read books about life on the inside but never from a teenager's point of view. The characters in Sadie's unit are really something and it's easy to imagine her horror at being locked up with such criminals when she herself is innocent. Or innocent-ish.

That Sadie is locked up at all, given the circumstances, was the only thing that bothered me. She confesses to a crime she didn't (really) commit but we, the readership, know from the start what really happened, and so the injustice is clear. Once inside, however, I had no trouble believing her tales and the descriptions, of both her surroundings and her cellmates, are vivid. The subject matter is serious, with murder, self-harm, drug deals and all the other things you would expect, but the book manages to stay light-hearted a lot of the time. Sporkgate in particular had me grinning.

The book ends sooner than I expected – as you read the last sentence, Sadie has not finished her own sentence – and this surprised me a little as I'd lost track of time and thought more weeks had passed. You can fit a lot in, though, when you're locked up 24/7 and although there's a lot of drama, with hindsight I can see how it would fill only a few months.

This book made me feel like I had experienced life on the inside, something I hope I never have to do except through the medium of books and film. For that, I'm giving it a high rating. It was insightful without being preachy, entertaining without being crass or tasteless. It's a young adult book but well written and thus enjoyable for much older age groups too. Recommended.

Thanks go to the publishers for supplying this book.

For more on the prison theme, see That Night by Chevy Stevens

Buy Juvie by Steve Watkins at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Juvie by Steve Watkins at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Juvie by Steve Watkins at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Juvie by Steve Watkins at Amazon.com.


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