Thursday, September 2, 2010

Boot Camp: Check Your Humanity at the Door

Boot Camp by Todd Strasser is a chilling look at real-life army-style bootcamps for troubled teens. I remember seeing old '90s talk shows such as "Jenny Jones" and "Maury" (which I actually just learned is still airing- good for you, Maury!), where desperate parents, with the help of the show, would ambush their out-of-control teenagers and have them carted off to a disciplinary boot camp. Todd Strasser's Boot Camp begins much the same, with main character Garrett on his way to Lake Harmony, a boot camp in upstate New York. Garrett's parents are sending him away because he has been skipping class and continuing a relationship with one of his teachers, who has since been fired from her job. Garrett argues that he does well in school without going every day, and that love knows no age, so why is his relationship wrong? As soon as Garrett arrives at Lake Harmony, however, he is barraged with messages about how worthless he is, how wrong he is to disobey his parents, and that before he can "graduate" from the boot camp, he must accept that he was wrong and be willing to submit fully to his parents. Methods of "education" employed by Lake Harmony include solitary confinement, lying face-down on a cement floor for hours and days at a time, emotional abuse from employees and other students, as well as student-on-student beatings. Although Boot Camp's main character is (I assume) unlike a typical boot camp resident and did not have problems with drugs, alcohol or violence, Strasser did his research on boot camps and paints a disturbing picture of a real-life phenomenon. 3 out of 4 Bananas

Abraham Lincoln Illinois High School Book Award 2011 Nominee

No comments: