by Leslie Connor
Overall: 5 out of 5 stars
Perry’s mom was pregnant when she came to Blue River Correctional Facility. Because it’s a minimum security prison, she was allowed to raise Perry beyond the 2 years sometimes afforded to incarcerated mothers (he’s now 11). Now the new District Attorney has caught wind of his unusual upbringing and is trying to stop it. However, Perry’s mom is up for parole soon and her case seems to be slowed up by something. It turns out that the DA is keeping her from reaching parole. Perry is trying to fill in the holes in his mother’s story and also reunite with her as soon as humanly possible.
I appreciated learning Perry’s observations of his life both inside and outside the prison, and what was surprising to him. He’s gone to public school since Kindergarten, so he’s been out in the world plenty, but it sounds like he’s never been inside a house or lived a normal life on the outside. He’s met his best friend, Zoey’s, mom, but neither she nor Zoey have met his mom. As part of a school project, Perry is determined to learn his mother’s story, and share it, along with the stories of some of his other friends who are also “residents” of the prison.
I was really hoping we would learn the full truth about Perry’s family, especially who his father was, but on balance it is more realistic this way. One thing that bugged me was a stiffness to the writing, especially a distinct lack of contractions in the dialogue. (There were some, but not as many as would be realistic.) Also funny was that Perry sometimes refers to Zoey by her full name, Zoey Samuels, and I wasn’t quite sure why. But those were really very minor. Overall this is a gripping story and when the plot hit its stride it was hard to put down! (It’s not really a mystery, but there is a very compelling situation that needs to be discovered, so that’s why I tagged it mystery.)