Robert Cormier's book which takes place in a Catholic boys' school, is in the top five of ALA's Most Challenged Books (probably because of the references to masturbation). I started to read this book once and put it down and just read it all the way through for a class. Since I had to analyze themes in this book, it really came home the amount of cruelty and bullying that appeared in this book.
For the first time since I have started this blog, I have to say I can't recommend this book. Our hero, Jerry, is given an "assignment" by the secret society called The Vigils. He has to refuse to sell chocolate bars for a school fund raiser for a set length of time. When the time runs out, he continues to refuse and actually starts to be an object of respect by the student body. The administrator of the school bullies the bullies to turn the students' regard of him back to disdain. In the end, Jerry is standing alone, no adults (not even his father helped) or friends support him. I can appreciate books that leave me with a sense of unease, like I could do something to better the situation, but this book left me with no sense of how things could have been better.
My rating for this book - +