The Juvie Three by Gordon Korman was the fifth Florida Sunshine book I’ve read this summer, which means that I still have ten more to go before I’ve read all fifteen!
All three boys are serving time in juvenile detention centers until they get a second chance at life in the form of Douglas Healy. A former juvenile delinquent himself, Healy is running an experimental halfway house in New York City where he wants to make a difference in the lives of kids like Gecko, Terence, and Arjay.
Things are going well, until one night Healy is accidentally knocked unconscious while trying to break up a scuffle among the boys. Terrified of the consequences, they drop him off at a hospital and run away. But when Healy awakes, he has no memory of them or the halfway house. Afraid of being sent back to Juvie, the guys hatch a crazy scheme to continue on as if the group leader never left. They will go to school, do their community service, attend therapy, and act like model citizens until Healy’s memory returns and he can resume his place with them. But life keeps getting in the way…like when Gecko finds romance. Or Arjay gets famous. Or Terence starts reverting to his old ways. If the boys are discovered, their second chance will be their last.
I need to start this by saying that I love Gordon Korman. I’ve read some of his other books and got to meet him at the FAME Conference this past November. It was there that I realized I have a pretty decent sized crush on him! Le sigh…
Anyway before I delve deeper into that lets focus back on The Juvie Three. I didn’t get into this book right away. It was almost three-fourths of the way through the book that I was finally excited to figure out what happened next. It wasn’t that I didn’t like the story, but I just kept getting distracted by other books because this one isn’t as glamorous as some of the Young Adult titles out there and it’s difficult for me to read about teens with troubled pasts. However, now that I’ve read it I’m really glad I did.
It isn’t Korman’s usual humorous novel, but although The Juvie Three deals with a more serious subject than his other books he still manages to slide some humor in there as well. Even after all the baggage and trouble these boys have gone through they’re still just kids who enjoy having fun despite not being used to it at all. The boys, are all pretty realistic and easily relateable and I really think my students will feel a connection between these regular teenage guys.
Although some of the plot is a little improbable at times, the book left me with an overall feeling of hope. The boys still have a long road ahead and unfortunately will have to deal with their pasts for many years to come, but hope is there. It is tangible. As an educator this story is one that reminded me why I do what I do. It’s so that I can help my students see just how tangible that hope is in their lives and futures.
All in all I think my students, especially my boys, will enjoy reading about Gecko, Arjay and Terence and their adventures (I guess that’s what you call it!) with Doug Healy. I recommend The Juvie Three, and pretty much anything else by Gordon Korman, to middle school readers (especially guys) and up!
Author: Gordon Korman
Publisher: Hyperion Books (September 2, 2008)
Format: Hardcover, library bound
Length: 256 pages
Buy the Book: The Juvie Three