I have the honor of being a stop on the blog tour for Zero Tolerance by Claudia Mills. About a month ago, I had just read a blog review of it and jotted the title down for my book order, when I received an invitation to be a stop on this tour. My review is below but be sure and check out the author's guest post about the ritual of writing, which I will also be sharing with the language arts department.
231 p. Margaret Ferguson Books/ Farrar Straus Giroux, June 18, 2013. 9780374333126. (Review from arc provided by publicist)
Seventh grader Sierra Shepard is every parent and teacher's dream. She's kind, if a bit smug and self-satisfied, self-motivated, high-achieving, organized and already on the fast-track to the Ivies with an impeccable resume of student leadership and activities. When she discovers that she inadvertently took her mother's lunch to school and there was a paring knife in the bag, Sierra immediately turns the knife in. Supremely confident that she has done the right thing and that surely, the school's "Zero Tolerance" policy does not pertain in her case, Sierra is shocked and dismayed to learn that it does.
This means serving an in-school suspension with the likes of Luke Bishop, bad-boy and cut-up. It also means she can't attend a prestigious vocal competition in addition to a host of other school events. But Sierra's high-powered lawyer father is not one to take this sitting down. He contacts the media and creates a very public battleground, including digging up some dirt on the principal.
I swallowed this one in one big gulp. Not only is the topic totally timely, but everything about the story is well done and relatable. The dialogue rings true and the characters ring true. There are some nice moments of authentic distractions, such as Sierra's preoccupation with her crush, Colin and her interactions with her frenemy, Celeste. There's also a fair amount of humor that anyone who has spent any time in a middle school will recognize. Most importantly, Ms. Mills lays out the variety of perspectives and allows the reader to draw their own conclusions.
This would make for a great class read-aloud. Teachers would not need to pry reaction from their students. I can envision many a lively discussion and requests for "one more chapter." But just in case you don't feel comfortable with spontaneous, the author provides a discussion guide here.
Visit the author's website here.
Upcoming stops on the tour:
September 4: Read Now, Sleep Later
September 6: The Book Monsters
September 9: Once Upon a Story
September 10: Pass the Chiclets
September 11: The Late Bloomer's Book Club
September 12: Mother Daughter Book Club
September 13: The Children's Book Review
September 15: Nerdy Book Club
September 16: Geo Librarian
September 17: A Life Bound by Books
Kirkus, Booklist and SLJ all gave Zero Tolerance positive reviews.
Other blog reviews:
Secrets and Sharing Soda
Book Loving Mom
I almost missed this bit, but I hear that there are copies available for giving away to U.S. addresses only. Please leave a comment below if you're interested in participating.
And don't forget to click here for Ms. Mills' guest post.