Reading/Interest Level: Intermediate
Author: Claudia Mills
Publisher: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux
RULES. As a member of the leadership club, Sierra was certain that rules were just a part of life, and helped everyone maintain order. RESPECT. She had even participated in the creation of some of them, knowing that those who respect policies and each other are those who excel. RESPONSIBILITY. That’s what she thought she was doing, taking responsibility, when her life at Longwood Middle School came to a screeching halt. RELIABILITY. Everything she knew about Longwood, about her friends and her academic success all changed when she accidentally grabbed the wrong lunch. Her mother’s lunch. The one with the paring knife. Everyone knows that the principle, Mr. Besser, worked hard at maintaining the policies that helped make Longwood the successful middle school that it is. So when Sierra accidentally grabbed the wrong lunch, Mr. Besser didn't seem to budge from his zero tolerance policies. Even though she took it to the nearest adult as soon as she realized her mistake. That’s when everything she knew about Longwood Middle School and it’s policies aren’t everything the world is made of. Suddenly, she found herself in in-school suspension awaiting her expulsion hearing. Sierra is thrust into the spotlight as those around her take sides in the conflict of abiding by the rules and making exceptions. That’s when she learned that her classmate, Luke, also in suspension for altercations, teaches her that life isn’t all about following the rules as stringently as Mr. Besser and his staff so gleefully abide by.
Pre-teens and young teenagers will enjoy Zero Tolerance as it takes them through a very relatable scenario where they can learn the difference between choosing what seems right even when the rules say otherwise. It’s appealing cover will draw attention to readers and bring them through a tantalizing world where thoughts and opinions of one person are not the thoughts and opinions of another. This is a good book for parents to read alongside their children, and can bring forth discussions such as what to do in the same situation Sierra finds herself in, or even other situations that might arise during those difficult pre-teen/early teenage years. Readers will enjoy this book as they learn and contemplate individual values and where they stand among a sea of different people. They may even have fun as they try to decide for themselves what should happen to Sierra, changing their own thoughts and opinions as the story progresses.
*Contains mild language.