A Book We’re Loving: Kindness for Weakness
Today, we’re raving about an upcoming young adult novel that we found incredibly powerful and moving, Kindness for Weakness by Shawn Goodman. The book isn’t out until May but we have a galley to give away to one lucky reader. If you would like a chance to read this novel, please leave a comment at the end of the post. We will choose a winner using random.org on Friday. U.S. residents only, please.
Every once in a while, you read a book that just knocks you out with its raw power and truth. The novel Kindness for Weakness is that book. A mature young adult novel, this is the story of James, a bright, sensitive teen growing up poor and abandoned. He idolizes his older brother Louis, who moved out at the age of seventeen when the brothers’ alcoholic mother chose her meth-addicted boyfriend over him. When Louis asks him to deliver drugs for him, James jumps at the chance to be close to Louis any way he can. James is quickly arrested and sent to a juvenile detention center. Goodman has worked in centers like this, and his experience shows. The world of the detention center is richly depicted, full of boys and guards you won’t forget.
What I found fascinating about this book is that Goodman shows James’ struggle to become a man in all of its complexity. James wants to learn, be a loyal friend and take care of his family, but he lives in a world where he is forced to fight, to defend himself and to become strong. He has to learn what place violence will have in his difficult life. Goodman gives him a few male role models, two prison workers and a kind high school teacher, who take an interest in his development. Though the book is often sad and harsh, readers will root for James to succeed and survive.
I would recommend this book to parents, educators and teens. There is so much to learn from this thoughtful young man.
Startlingly honest, violent and hopeful all at once, this isn’t a book to read if you aren’t ready for an emotional rollercoaster. Abandoned by his family (even though a few of them are still in his life) James is willing to do anything to regain a sense of normal. So when his older brother has a “job” for him he is willing to put his own life on the line. A trip to juvie is the result of this “job” where James learns the true meaning of family, self and friendship. Gritty and full of content this is definitely 14+.
Kindness for Weakness is also available to Net Galley readers. You can find it here.