Thursday, January 23, 2014

Unchained by L.B. Tillit

TJ is already a bully and the neighborhood tough guy when he gets recruited by a gang at the age of thirteen. With drug-addicted and negligent parents at home, TJ has been taking care of himself for a long time; thus, the prospect of having a new “family” is enticing. But before he’s able to get too involved, tragedy strikes at home when his father dies. Against his wishes, he’s whisked away and sent to live in a foster home on the other side of town. Readers may need to pause here and suspend their disbelief because Miss Dixie’s home is one that probably isn’t too familiar to most, a foster home where everyone is kind to one another and all meals take place together around a table. In two years’ time, TJ turns his life around. Then, suddenly, his mother meets the requirements to get him back and he is forced to face the gang again.

While students may be able to relate to the feelings of helplessness that TJ experiences, the book loses momentum in the middle. Students will pick it up because of its strong cover, and it might be a hit with readers of Bluford High. --Anja Kennedy

Tillit, L. B. Unchained. Costa Mesa, CA: Saddleback Educational Publishing, 2012. Print.

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