Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Caragh Reviews // Juvie by Steve Watkins

Published - 1st January 2015
Publisher - Walker Books
Format - Paperback
Synopsis - Heart-wrenching and real, Juvie tells the story of two sisters grappling with accountability, sacrifice – and who will be there to help you after you take the fall. An unflinchingly honest, and ultimately hopeful, view of life in juvenile detention.
Heart-wrenching and real, Juvie offers an unflinching and poignant view of life in juvenile detention, and will appeal to fans of TV shows like Orange Is the New Black. Sadie Windas has always been the responsible one – she's the star player on her basketball team, she gets good grades, she dates a cute soccer player and she tries to help out at home. Not like her older sister, Carla, who leaves her three-year-old daughter, Lulu, with Aunt Sadie while she parties and gets high. But when both sisters are caught up in a drug deal – wrong place, wrong time – it falls to Sadie to confess to a crime she didn’t commit to keep Carla out of jail and Lulu out of foster care. Sadie is supposed to get off with a slap on the wrist, but somehow, impossibly, gets sentenced to six months in juvie. As life as Sadie knew it disappears beyond the stark bars of her cell, her anger – at her ex-boyfriend, at Carla and at herself – fills the empty space left behind. Can Sadie forgive Carla for getting her mixed up in this mess? Can Carla straighten herself out to make a better life for Lulu and for all of them? Can Sadie survive her time in juvie with her spirit intact?

Possible spoilers towards the end. You've been warned!

Juvie was one of those books that was not even slightly, on my radar. Every so often when i'm in the supermarket, I have a quick look at what's in the very small book section and found it sitting there. I needed something to read and it seemed interesting enough so I went for it. I rated this book 3 stars on Goodreads and it's going to be pretty difficult to really put across how I felt about it.

From the first few pages I knew that I liked Sadie. She's family orientated, strong and more importantly maybe, pretty damn flawed. For some reason I was just desperate to know more about her and her family life. 

Sadie's story is told in 'before' and 'after' chapters. Some chapters detail how she ended up in Juvie and the mistakes and life she lead up to that point and then others are what happens whilst she is there. I don't usually enjoy books like that but I found that it kept me interested and seemed like it would give me all of the answers to Sadie's life that I was looking for.

Unfortunately, it never really did. I kept reading and reading and then the book just...ended. I'm almost certain that i've missed something. Some big reveal or life affirming moment. Something to explain what happened next. Juvie was well on it's way to being one of the only 5* rated books that i've read so far this year but it totally just fell flat. What happened to Sadie? What did she do when she got out? Did Carla sort herself out? How does her mother cope, and more importantly, her father? What happens to Lulu? What happened to the other prisoners? Did she ever find out who committed what crime? Did Cell Seven get what she wanted?

The whole book just felt like it was unfinished. I understand the whole need to leave readers wanting more and with some questions but I felt like my book was missing a good 200 pages. All of the questions that are put forward on the blurb for this book just weren't answered to my satisfaction. I haven't read many reviews for Juvie yet (I wait until after i've read it, where possible) but i'm sure I can't be the only one to feel slightly confused. If i'm being totally honest (which I always am here!), this book suffered from a severe lack of plot. Watkins can write excellently. He knows how to hook a reader and create wonderful characters. He just didn't really know what to do with them afterward.  I'll definitely keep an eye out for more of his work in the future and i'm glad that I've added Juvie to my collection - I just feel a little disappointed.

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