Thursday, February 2, 2017

February's Book of the Month--All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook

ALL RISE FOR THE HONORABLE PERRY T. COOK, by Leslie Connor, was one of my favorite middle-grade novels of 2016, a year filled with especially strong middle-grade titles.

Eleven-year-old Perry Cook, born and raised in the minimum security prison where his mom serves a term for manslaughter, knows all about family. In addition to his mom, Perry has grown up with plenty of loving, supportive people in the Blue River Co-ed Correctional Facility. This includes the warden, foreman, and many of the inmates (“rezzes”). Perry’s life isn’t conventional by any means. But Blue River is for nonviolent offenders, and the author shows us the people behind the mistakes they have made. When a DA with an agenda decides Perry needs a “real” family, he separates the boy from the only home he has ever known.

Perry is an extraordinary character, as is his entire supporting cast. From Warden Dougherty, who okays the unusual arrangement, to Big Ed and Mr. Halsey, to Perry’s mom Jessica, best friend Zoey, teacher Ms. Maya, new lunchroom cashier Miss Jenrik, and even the deplorable DA Thomas VanLeer, these are fully-realized characters that have a mighty story to tell. Connor has written a feel-good novel that stands up to repeated readings.


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