ARC (Advance Reading Copy). Published May 14, 2013. Delacorte Press. 261 pp.
Fifteen-year-old James has a hard home life. His brother Louis moved out 2 years ago and barely talks to him, his father left when he was just 5 years old, and his mother doesn’t care whether he lives or dies as her life with her meth addict boyfriend Ron has taken all the fight out of her. James spends his days hungry and cold, wandering the streets to get away from Ron and his beatings. At school he is bullied by others, with his only solace being the time spent reading and talking about books with his English teacher.
When Louis invites him to work for him, James is ecstatic. Thinking they’ll rekindle their brotherly love, he acts as Louis’ courier. Unfortunately he gets arrested as Louis is a drug dealer and, despite this being his first offense, he is sentenced to a year in a juvenile prison full of hardened teen inmates and one in which the guards use their power of authority to deliberately beat, abuse and maim their young prisoners.
Unfortunately, James’ story contains more truth than fiction, leaving readers to realize the juvenile justice system in the United States is in need of much more oversight than it’s currently facing. “Kindness for Weakness” is an important read for reluctant readers and all teens aged 14 and older.
I will say I was really upset with the way the book ended, and am not happy with the author right now.