The Buffalo Tree

by Adam Rapp

Sura may be only 12, but the ugliness and brutality he witnesses each day inside... read more

Sura may be only 12, but the ugliness and brutality he witnesses each day inside the juvenile detention center, where he is serving a six-month sentence for robbery, has made him old and wary. Some of the other juveniles in detention are frightening in their cruelty. So, too, are some of the adults; supervisors like the one who humiliates Coly Jo, Sura's patch (cell) mate, and tries to break his spirit. "I don't cry and I'm not scared or nothing,"Sura writes his mother, telling her not to worry. But Deacon Bob Fly, the caring counselor whom Sura sees, thinks Sura's been blocking his fear and other feelings for far too long. In Adam Rapp's shocking, stunning novel Sura, an adolescent boy of the street, is a sensitive observer of a closed and frightening place that has rules and language all its own. This insider language may be a barrier to some readers, but there is poetry in Sura's words that transcends literal meaning, and the emotional weight of Sura's story is heightened by this language of crudity and grace. A grim and hard-edged novel concludes with a fragile but real sense of hope for Sura's future. (Age 15 and older)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 1997

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