Review: Juvie by Steve Watkins

Authentic and honest novel that gives an insight into life behind bars at Juvie.

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Juvie summary

Sadie has always been the responsible one. Not like her older sister, Carla.

Caught up in a drug deal – wrong lace, wrong time – Sadie has to take the blame to keep Carla out of jail.

Sadie was supposed to get community service; instead she is sentenced to six months in juvie.

She has sacrificed everything for her sister. Can Sadie find the strength to forgive her, too.

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My thoughts

I found Juvie to be gripping, insightful and honest, and the character growth was absolutely perfect. It’s clear that Steve Watkins has done his research for this novel, therefore giving the reader a realistic look at what life inside Juvie is like.

It’s not the most fast-paced of books, but I felt that the clever decision to alternate between past and present each chapter meant that I was hooked from the get go, wanting to find out more about the events that led to Sadie ultimately arriving in Juvie, and at the same getting an understanding of what the consequences of Sadie’s actions really meant.

One of my favourite things about this book is the idea that not guilty doesn’t necessarily mean innocent. Maybe Sadie didn’t mean to get herself into the situation she did, but she can’t say she’s completely innocent because she made some terrible decisions, and that’s something that is handled brilliantly in this novel and is part of that perfect character growth I was talking about.

Also brilliant are the other girls in Juvie with Sadie. It’s quite frightening how unpredictable, manipulative and untruthful those girls can be, yet I believed in each and every one of them. The staff in Juvie are fantastically written too, each with different qualities that bring extra elements of depth to the novel.

Finally, Sadie’s relationships with her sister, her niece, her mum and particularly her dad were quite fascinating, and had me tearing up towards the end. There are still so many questions unanswered when the book ends and there’s no sequel planned, but on this occasion I’ve accepted that I’ll just never know and that this time that’s ok.

The word that springs to mind when I think about this novel is authentic – there is no sugar-coating and no real sympathy, and that’s what makes it so good. I think Juvie would be an excellent book to put in schools to help encourage kids to think about their actions, because the consequences can be very real and completely awful, even if you’re under the age of 18.

Have you read Juvie? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments section below.

My rating

**** 4/5 stars

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