Written by: Leslie Connor
Eleven-year-old Perry T. Cook shouldn’t be living in a prison: he has committed no crime.
Perry was born and raised at the Blue River Co-ed Correctional Facility in tiny Surprise, Nebraska. His mom is a resident on Cell Block C. So far, Warden Daugherty has made it possible for them to be together. Anyone who knows about the arrangement is quietly okay with it. But when Perry is discovered by the new, ambitious district attorney, Thomas VanLeer, everything changes.
Forced to foster with the VanLeer family, Perry lives on “the outside” but feels trapped. His mom’s parole hearing is just weeks away, but the rule bending that allowed Perry to stay with her could mean she’ll get more prison time.
Desperate to be reunited with his mom, Perry goes on a quest to learn the whole truth behind their Blue River story. But will the facts help them or hurt them? Can he find a way to tell everyone what home truly means?
This isn’t the kind of story I usually pick off the shelf at the library, but for some reason, I did. I am referring to the kind of story that is trying to mimic real life but has a plot based on something that seems so farfetched – like a kid being raised in prison. I only tell you this so that you understand how completely surprised I am that this is one of my new favorite books! I expected (and I can’t fully say why except that it seems nearly impossible to do a story like this well) for there to be holes in the story about why or how certain things came to be, and for there to be a completely reasonable (and cheesy) explanation of why the mother was in prison so we could honestly like her. Nothing was as I expected. The relationships in this story – ALL OF THEM – are sincere and heartfelt to the very core and I closed the book at the end sad to see it over. You just need to read it for yourself!
1. Perry and Zoe have an incredible friendship. What do you think makes it so strong? How do they get past the situation with Perry’s new foster arrangement? How do they forgive each other for mistakes?
2. Brian Morris probably sounds at least a little bit familiar to many readers. What incident made you see more to Brian than his initial impression? Why do you think it had such an impact on him?
3. When Perry moved in with the VanLeer family, he took on the goals and advice he had heard Big Ed give to all new inmates since as far back as he could remember. What strategies did he use to help him adjust? Do you think any of Big Ed’s advice could be applied to your life? How? Why or why not?