Teen Review– Zero Tolerance by Claudia Mills


This book is about 7th grader Sierra Shepard, known for being the perfect student (getting perfect grades and being perfectly respectful, but most of all her involvement in the leadership club and being a part of the school’s choir). The book takes a quick turn when in the first few chapters it is discovered that on complete accident, Sierra Shepard took her mother’s lunch to school which contained a knife for peeling the apple. Being a responsible student, though, she immediately turns the knife in with intentions of doing the right thing, but quickly the faculty and staff are revealed to be extremely inflexible and refuse to make an exception to bringing a weapon to school, no matter the circumstances. Sierra argues that even though she has broken the rule, she doesn’t deserve to be punished because it was a mistake. She is put into school suspension until the school hearing about her case, where she meets Luke Bishop (the school troublemaker) and they learn more about each other and become friends through sharing time in suspension. The entire story is takes place from the day of the incident up until the school hearing.

One thing I like about the book is that there are so many events going on, but at the same time it wasn’t confusing keeping the characters names in order or remembering every event that happened that belonged to a particular side of the story like other novels. The plot was simple yet had enough twists and characters to be interesting. The main events to occur was the anticipation of the upcoming hearing for Sierra’s case, the upcoming choir performance, various news stories and petitions for Sierra to be released from suspension (as the whole case was blown out of proportion by Sierra’s dad, an attorney, who gave the case major publicity), and Sierra’s crush on Colin, a boy from the choir. Even with all of the events, the plot was still straightforward, easy to understand, and interesting enough to make you want to keep reading. The only problem I can name in the book was the character department. Most of the characters either got too much attention, too little attention, or got inconsistent amounts throughout the book. A lot of the characters were hard to get attached to or acted too much of a hero at some parts of the book. I liked the writing style a lot because the book (centered on a 7th grader) was written as to what somebody in middle school would think.

One memorable thing about the book was the students in suspension. At first, Sierra hated everybody in suspension, but she learns that they aren’t all just dumb kids who don’t think about their future. Sierra learns that the students in suspension are actually quite clever and usually didn’t deserve it. The characters come and go and usually only get a chapter, but the character development Sierra gets within the walls of in school suspension is something outstanding.

four stars

Review by Emily, grade 7, Twin Hickory Area Library

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