Harry Sue

Published By: Knopf Books for Young Readers

Book Category: Non-Fiction, Juvenile Non-Fiction

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Reviewed by Connie Anderson

"Just because he knew nothing short of a miracle could make his dream come true didn't stop Homer Price from helping me realize mine."
Harry Sue (nick for Harriet Susan)

Not many books today start with a glossary, but to understand Harry Sue, you need to read and refer to the Joint Jive Glossary.

Harry Sue's parents both went to prison, leaving her with next of kin, the horrible granny of nightmares. Now the father (a con) is dead, and the mother is a conette, serving time for drug dealing, and serving it without being in contact with her only child.

The story contains many different kinds of prisons: sadness and loss; actual incarceration; limits of being a quadriplegic; unmet expectations; and of course, not being loved and cared for.

Filled with prison 'joint jive,' at times I was confused by the words, but the rich characters and situations were well worth the struggle.

Harry Sue, age 11, is convinced the only way she will see ever mother again is to become a conette herself. She acts tough, but her soft heart gives her away at every turn. Her best friend, before and after a diving accident that left him a quadriplegic, form an alliance best described by the quote above. We should all be so lucky to have a friend like that.

The author is a journalist who has conducted writing workshops for women in prison who are separated from their children, imprisoned for their drug use. You can read some of their writings at www.SueStauffacher.com . The author tells us in promotional materials that between 1977 and 2001 the number of female prisoners in the U.S. grew 592%. Harry Sue gives voice to those children -- disenfranchised boys and girls grappling with the humiliation of having a parent in prison.

I am not sure what age this book is best for, perhaps age 12 and up. For any age, it WILL bring up questions

Armchair Interviews says: This would be a good book for a discussion group of young adults as it brings up the different aspects of being young (both good and bad). It is a thought-provoking and well-written book with a message that will linger

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