Jailed at age sixteen for armed robbery, Nathan Henry was the kind of teenager most parents and teachers have nightmares about. His crime was the culmination of a life lived on the edge: guns and drugs, sex and violence, all set against the ordinary backdrop of a one-stop light town in rural Indiana. Nate's personal history is both disturbing and fascinating. A rough childhood becomes an adolescence full of half-realized violent fantasies that slowly build to the breaking point. But these scenes alternate with chapters about Nate's time in jail, where through reading and reflection he comes to see that his life can be different from all he's known up to this point.
Nathan's story of his year in jail and the life that led him there combine to create a powerful portrait of an American youth gone bad-and a moving story of redemption.
As hard-hitting as Jack Gantos's Hole in My Life, this memoir of a teenager's year in jail offers insight into a mind obsessed with violence. First-time author Henry alternates explicit memories of his troubled childhood in a house full of guns with scenes inside an Illinois county jail, where the 16-year-old has plenty of time to ponder the events leading to his act of armed robbery and subsequent arrest. The portrait of Nathan's youth is not for the fainthearted. His seeming lack of conscience as he torments animals and engages in other forms of cruelty are disturbing, yet he is shown to be as much a victim as a villain; the influence of Nathan's abusive, unpredictable father looms over the book. Moments when Nathan expresses remorse ("I would eventually, many years after all this, acquire a lot of cats... and I would lavish them with affection.... I would over identify with them, to compensate for what horrors I visited upon the animal kingdom when I was young") foreshadow his repentance. Witnessing Nathan's emotional journey is a painful but enlightening experience that won't easily be forgotten. Ages 14 up.