The Free by Lauren McLaughlin is a young adult novel about a juvenile delinquent and his experiences during his time at a detention center.
Isaac West is a sixteen-year-old boy who is imprisoned in Haverland juvenile prison. He is in a juvenile prison for 30 days because he stole a car and injuring its owner in the process. Part of his sentence requires him to go to group therapy where its members have to relive the crimes they have committed. In the beginning, Isaac is only focused on getting out of ‘juvie’ as soon as possible. While behind bars he is only thinking about his sisters and the many misdeeds of his alcoholic mother. He does not feel responsible for his crime. As time went on, Issac discovers a lot about crime rivalry, relationships and taking responsibility for one’s actions. His fellow inmates are not only brutal murderers and thieves, but all kids who have been neglected or let down by adults who failed them. They have dreams and aspirations; talents and fears, and they have to live with terrible burdens. Things start to change when memories from the past start to resurface that he’d had locked away for a long time. This incident sets a development into motion that might put not only his life in danger but also that of his beloved sister. Suddenly he is forced to take responsibility for his criminal and personal past.
I received this ARC from Soho Press and Soho Teen via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.