Shavonne is one very troubled teenager! She was just ordered to psychiatric treatment for stealing a sandwich and injuring a guard at the Junvenile Detention Center she is adjudicated to. Shavonne is about to turn 18 but, if she doesn’t turn her life around she is not going to get the opportunity to re-unite with her one year old daughter. She will not be able to gain her freedom. She is on her way to adult jail! With that looming over her head, the reader can see why Shavonne has difficulty finding any hope in her dismal situation called life.
Shavonne has been a ward of the state since she was 6 years old. She had a family once upon a time. Her mom had substance abuse issues and left her not just by herself, but caregiver to her infant baby brother. After a horrific incident, Shavonne and her brother were separated. Behavior problems got her kicked out of one foster home after another until finally she committed a crime that got her locked up.
Shavonne doesn’t know who to trust. She simply will not open up about her life. She is given one more opportunity to talk through her issues, but her desire to open up and see beyond the mess in her life or even embrace a slim glimmer of hope for her future is very difficult. It doesn’t help to have an overweight shrink with sad eyes and problems of his own like Mr. Delpopolo assigned to help her.
Shawn Goodman’s debut novel is a tough but necessary read. He brings his wisdom and compassion as a school psychologist who no doubt has come across many Shavonnes in his career. This is a well written book that earned him a Delacorte Press Prize in 2009, awarded to an author for their first Young Adult Novel.
Review by Andrea, CLP-Homewood