STARRED REVIEW
March 2016

The impact of incarceration

By Leslie Connor
Review by
Eleven-year-old Perry Cook starts his first day of middle school with a healthy dose of trepidation, and indeed, several things go wildly wrong. But Perry’s life becomes far more difficult when he’s forced to leave the only home he’s ever known: the Blue River Co-ed Correctional Facility in Surprise, Nebraska, where his mom is serving time. Perry has been living in a room next to the office of his foster parent, the warden.
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Eleven-year-old Perry Cook starts his first day of middle school with a healthy dose of trepidation, and indeed, several things go wildly wrong. But Perry’s life becomes far more difficult when he’s forced to leave the only home he’s ever known: the Blue River Co-ed Correctional Facility in Surprise, Nebraska, where his mom is serving time. Perry has been living in a room next to the office of his foster parent, the warden.

Unfortunately, the new district attorney, Thomas VanLeer, gets wind of Perry’s unusual living arrangement and puts a quick end to it, bringing Perry home to temporarily live with his wife and stepdaughter. VanLeer also gets rid of the warden and postpones Perry’s mom’s parole hearing. The only saving grace is that VanLeer’s stepdaughter happens to be Perry’s very best friend, Zoey.

While the plot of All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook may sound improbable, author Leslie Connor pulls these elements together beautifully and believably. She’s a gifted storyteller who creates a memorable bunch of multi-dimensional characters. Think of this as a G-rated “Orange Is the New Black.” There’s nothing even remotely inappropriate or hard-edged here, as Connor transforms Blue River and its inmates into a kingdom filled with wise, warm and wonderful souls—an ensemble cast at its best.

As Perry fights to spend time with his mother and to learn the important secret she’s been hiding about why she went to prison, readers gain insight into the many ways in which a prison sentence affects families in this soulful novel.

 

This article was originally published in the March 2016 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

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