My expectations for The Juvie Three were high, given that it is written by Gordon Korman, one of my favorite authors. I was not disappointed! I really enjoyed the book. As with most of Korman’s work, I read it in only two sittings. I was hooked from the beginning.
It is the story of three teenage boys who have all become part of the juvenile justice system: two have been committed to juvenile detention facilities and one has been sent to an adult prison for incidents which precede the beginning of the book. Enter Doug Healy, who has obtained funding and permission to run a unique halfway house for juvenile offenders.
For his own reasons–which are never detailed in the book–Healy specifically chooses Graham (Gecko) Fosse, Terence Florian and Arjay Moran as his three residents. He brings the three boys to live with him in a New York City apartment. They will go to high school, perform community service and attend group therapy sessions.
There is a serious accident which leaves Healy bleeding and unconscious with a head wound. Terrified of the consequences for themselves, the boys drop Healy off at an ER and go home to wait. The next day they discover Healy is in a coma and listed as a John Doe. When Healy finally comes out of his coma, he cannot remember who he is or anything about the boys.
The plans the boys engineer and implement to survive their situation and restore Healy to his life are exciting and fast-paced with little twists and turns. Along the way, they learn to take responsibility for their own choices, discover what it means to support your teammates and how to begin to believe in themselves and their futures.
A word of caution: the book contains mature subject matter such as breaking and entering, hot-wiring cars, gang affiliation, violent threats and a serious physical altercation. There is also some language which–although entirely appropriate to the story–may be offensive to some.
This is a GREAT book for junior high and high school age; I probably would not recommend this book for younger than 6th grade due to subject matter. It is heartwarming without being saccharine and there were moments when the plot went in a different direction than I expected–which I appreciated.