Review of the Week

zero toleranceMills, Claudia. Zero Tolerance. Fic. Farrar, 2013. 231p. $16.99. 978-0-374-33312-6. OUTSTANDING. GRADES 4-8

When Sierra accidentally takes her mom’’s bag lunch to middle school instead of her own, she realizes there is a small knife in the bag, which she turns in to the office right away. In this Kafkaesque tale, Sierra soon finds herself accused of bringing a weapon to school, and even though it was an accident, she could be expelled. This gripping page-turner about school policies and human foibles sounds very true to life, with adult characters who are not all bad or good and multi-faceted young main characters. Mills’ earlier novels, especially Standing Up for Mr. O (1998), have had similar themes dealing with ethical issues, which makes her books especially well suited to book discussion groups. Zero Tolerance is more balanced than some of her earlier books because the adults are very realistic, and the issues are common in today’s schools. This offers a great combination of thoughtful writing and a “ripped-from-the-headines” plot. Review based on an ARC.

Penny Peck, San Jose State Univ, SLIS

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