Title: Kindness for Weakness
Author: Shawn Goodman
Published: Jan 1st 2013
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest meets Catcher in the Rye.
A fifteen-year-old boy from an abusive home desperately seeking his older brother's love and approval starts pushing drugs for him and suffers the consequences.
(Synopsis Provided By Goodreads)
Kindness for Weakness was only a glimpse at the cruel and unfortunate circumstance of the juvenile system in parts of America. Written beautifully from the perspective of a young boy named James, who has just been dealt bad cards in life, the story unfolds quickly and dramatically to focus on the unfair treatment of young men in the juvenile justice system.
This read was very different from my usual teen fiction of thriller drama or romance. Kindness for Weakness was only a glimpse at the cruel and unfortunate circumstance of the juvenile system in America. Written beautifully from the perspective of a young boy, James, who has just been dealt bad cards in life, the story unfolds quickly and dramatically to focus on the unfair treatment of young men in the juvenile justice system.
The story looks to tell through James, the mentality these young men are exposed to in a surrounding like a juvenile centre. What types of people are there, what the routine is and how they affect these young men. Often being raised by single parents or grandparents while the other is dead or in prison, regardless their upbringing, these teens perceive the world differently and ultimately, the world sees them differently. In the juvenile system especially, they cannot escape their differences because what sets them apart, makes them weak.
Only in high school, James comes from a broken home. His mother is dating a drug attic that abuses her and James. His brother Louis, who is not that much older, has left James at home to deal with the abuse alone while he tries to make money selling drugs. James wants nothing more than to be like his brother, all on his own and strong enough to fight back. So, when Louis asks for James to help him out delivering drugs, James all but jumps at the opportunity to spend time with him. On a delivery, James gets caught with the drugs and while he looks for his brothers help in trying to get out of it, Louis runs off in the other direction, leaving James to face the consequences all on his own. Sentenced to time in a juvenile centre, James is introduced to an entirely different and harsh reality. Where no one cares to be better or learn better because they know no better. The majority of the book takes place with James navigating his way through this juvenile centre. Learning to find the role of self amongst others and what the weakness you see in yourself can do to you. James struggles to figure out how to grow and be strong for nobody but himself – we watch him admit defeat but also figure out that there are different kinds of weaknesses that stay with you no matter what.
The novel is a hard read at times. I found myself cringing and crying out for justice in the juvenile centre the story takes place at but it really dawned on me that although this story is fiction, stories like this happen in real life and who is there to cry for their justice? Kindness for Weakness was truly an inspiring read and new favourite of mine. I highly suggest picking it up to read for a perspective unlike any other and a circumstance that demands to be made more known.
I rate this book 5 out of 5 stars.
I do not know enough after this book to comment on what I think of the juvenile system critically. I may have perceived this story entirely wrong but I would love to hear your thoughts on this heartbreaking story below in the comments!
I leave you with this excerpt from the book:
“…the weight on top of me crushes it, crushes everything, crushes me into the floor like the whole world is on my back and is going to drive me down through the floor and into the earth.”