Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Boot Camp by Todd Strasser
Did you know that parents with a lot of money can send problem kids to private schools that operate like Army boot camps? The parents want their kids to be "whipped into shape" and to come back better behaved, and the boot camps can pretty much do whatever they want to the kids. It's kind of like being sent to prison without being legally convicted of a crime. Todd Strasser wrote this fiction book about a 15-year-old kid who really isn't a bad guy who gets sent to one of these abusive schools. His parents sent him away because he was dating an older woman who happened to also be one of his teachers. Garrett faces both physical and psychological abuse, but he refuses to admit that he did anything wrong. His stubbornness just gets him more abuse. Garrett eventually attempts and escape, but things don't turn out like you might expect. I don't think Strasser's books are particularly well-written, but he knows how to hit on topics of great interest to kids and how to put together a story that keeps kids reading. It's not a book for everyone—it's got violence and abuse and it's not a happy story at all. I suspect that some kids will really like it and others will want nothing to do with it. But if you do read it, I'm sure you will want to learn more about these Boot Camps and how they get away with what they do.