Saturday, December 6, 2008

Do Not Pass Go

Do Not Pass Go
Kirkpatrick Hill

Deet doesn’t know how well he has it. After all, his family is poor, his parents are irresponsible and unorganized, and he feels like he’s the only one in the family who has it all together. He works school, he’s organized to the point of being anal retentive, and he helps take care of his sisters.

Then the unimaginable happens. Deet’s father is arrested for using drugs. His dad has been working two jobs and he’s been caught taking drugs to stay awake during his night job. He’s now in jail, awaiting a trial and sentencing. Deet’s life has taken a complete shift. At first he’s embarrassed and ashamed that his father would do anything so stupid, and then he’s scared for him – after all jail can be a pretty horrible place. His mother, who at the beginning of the book comes across as completely irresponsible, changes immediately. She gets a job in order to have money coming in to the family and she forces herself to go to the jail to visit he husband. Deet too visits his father and begins to learn that there are all types of people there. While all the prisoners had made some sort of mistake, they were certainly not all bad people. He also learns that the ways that people react to their family members being in jail can differ greatly. He also begins to make friends, which is something he’d never really allowed himself to do before.

On the whole I liked this book, but I do feel it has it flaws. Hill sets out to show that lots of different types of people make mistakes and end up in jail and that “Jail wasn’t the end of the world,” but he’s a bit heavy-handed in his approach. I do think, however, that readers with family and friends in jail might get some comfort from this book.

The other issue I have with it has to do with religion. Deet is an atheist. I don’t have a problem with that – I think it’s important that many different religious viewpoints are expressed in books. Deet’s grandfather is a unforgiving, mean Christian man who’s convinced that his son is going to hell. It’s the combination of the two that bothers me because Hill seems to be reverting to stereotypes when it comes to religion.

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