Sixteen-year-old Jericho is awaiting initiation to the Warriors of Distinction, the oldest and most exclusive club in school—but how high a price will he have to pay to belong? Find out in this first novel in Sharon M. Draper’s Jericho Trilogy.
When Jericho is invited to pledge for the Warriors of Distinction, he thinks his life can’t get any better. As the most exclusive club in school, the Warriors give the best parties, go out with the hottest girls, and great grades are a given. When Arielle, one of the finest girls in his class, starts coming on to him once the pledge announcements are made, Jericho is determined to do anything to become a member…
But as the initiation week becomes progressively harrowing, Jericho is forced to make choices he’s not entirely comfortable with. And one member seems to have it in for the sole female pledge in the group…a pledge who will stop at nothing to show she can handle the pressure. But when is she being pushed too far, and when should Jericho and his friends step in and risk losing their places in the pledging process? As Jericho becomes increasingly uneasy, his cousin Joshua breezes through the initiation, never thinking of the consequences, even when the fine line between fun and games, and life and death is crossed.
Draper (Forged by Fire; Double Dutch) conveys the seductive power of teen clubs and the dangers of hazing rituals in this timely novel about a talented trumpet player. Jericho is ecstatic when he and his cousin Josh get the coveted invitation to join the Warriors of Distinction, a prestigious organization known for its community service. Both boys enjoy raised status at Frederick Douglass High when word gets out that they've pledged, but becoming a Warrior comes at a high price. During initiation week, Jericho compromises his dignity, his morals and, as the nightly rituals become increasingly intense, even his dreams of attending Juilliard. Other pledges suffer as well. One engages in strenuous physical activity despite his heart condition, and Dana, the only female member of the group, is continually harassed by a sadistic senior Warrior. The novel is not without flaws. Many characters border on stereotypes and much of the plot is fairly predictable, but these problems may be overlooked by audience members who are anxious to find out how extreme Jericho and others can be. As tragedy inevitably strikes, the author drives home an important message about peer pressure. Ages 12-up.