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Tuesday, May 17
All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook
My rating: ★★★★½
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Date of publication: March 1, 2016
Age: Grades 5 - 7
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Themes: family, justice, perseverance, court system, foster care, home
Eleven-year-old Perry was born and raised by his mom at the Blue River Co-ed Correctional Facility in tiny Surprise, Nebraska...even though she is a resident on Cell Block C. So far, Warden Daugherty has made it possible for them to be together. That is, until a new district attorney discovers the truth—and Perry is removed from the facility and forced into a foster home. In the "outside" world, he feels trapped. Desperate to be reunited with his mom, Perry goes on a quest for answers about her past crime. As he gets closer to the truth, he will discover that love makes people resilient no matter where they come from ...but can he find a way to tell everyone what home truly means?
Now this is what I like to see in a middle grade novel. Yes, there are tough issues and real world problems, but that doesn't mean it has to be depressing! Perry sees a lot of injustice, both in the formal legal sense and in his personal relationships. He gets angry, he gets sad. But he also fights, has hope, and builds off of the support he gets from some amazing friends (I love the characters in this book--the variety and strength in each is awesome.) The writing is excellent with several key details I appreciated. For instance, while with his foster family, Perry never refers to anything as his, just "the room he's staying in" or "the bed they let him use" and so forth. Home is with his mother. Speaking of, the addition of chapters from Jessica's perspective, while I thought odd at first, provide fantastic perspective to the story. I enjoyed her character's voice. And while the ending is totally predictable, I still love a happy ending (*heartfelt sigh*).
I wish I could've given it the full five stars, but there are some odd gaps, jumps, and skips. For instance: Brian, the token bully character, has too quick of turnaround. The depth behind his change of heart is missing. Also, Perry's father. Jessica shares her fond memories of him and how wonderful he was...but she never told him about his son, Perry? I wish she had just put in one sentence about why she cut ties. Small complaints, really. I'm getting picky about details.
Honestly, on the whole, I loved this book and will be quick to recommend it. The legalese and making-a-family-with-those-around-you theme makes me think of Three Times Lucky, while the fight for family and strong main character is like Some Kind of Courage. Really though, this is a pretty unique book and topic. Go and read!
Find it at your library or on Amazon