Locked-up literature

An annotated list of novels featuring characters in, or recently released from, a secure detention facility or residential placement.  The list contains only realistic novels (so no Maze Runner) set in the United States and published since 2005.


Beaudoin, Sean. Wise Young  Fool. New York Little, Brown and Company, 2013.

Eighteen-year-old Ritchie Sudden finds himself locked in juvenile detention as a direct result of issues related to anger and loss.  While inside, he journals about his time locked-up and the events which lead to his arrest and incarceration.


Cerrito, Angela.  The End of the Line.New York : Holiday House, 2011.

Thirteen year old Robbie Thompson is in solitary at Great Oaks School, a juvenile-detention center of last resort. He’s been kicked out  similar facilities and alternative schools.  While locked-up  Robbie sorts through the events in his life as a way to earn food and water.


Cummings, Priscilla.  The Journey Back. New York: Dutton Children’s Books, 2012

Soon after his 14th birthday, Michael Griswald escapes from the Cliffside Youth Detention Center, where he has been incarcerated for his role in a prank which turned into murder.  He’s desperate to return home to protect the rest of his family from his father’s violent raging temper


de la Peña, Matt. We Were Here.New York : Delacorte Press, 2009

Sixteen year old Miguel Casteñeda, is serving time in a group home surrounded by other youthful offenders. With two friends, Miguel escapes and the three young men  embark om a journey toward Mexico.


Dean, Carolee.  Take Me There. New York : Simon Pulse, 2010.

Seventeen-year-old Dylan Dawson’s still on probation after serving time for receiving stolen property.  But with his father’s execution in Texas days away, Dylan’s breaks the law and sets out to stay goodbye to his dad.


Dotson-Lewis, Gloria. You Got Me Twisted. East Orange, N.J. : Wahida Clark Presents Young Adult, 2012.

Makenzie’s got a temper that gets her into trouble time and again.  Hauled in front of a judge, she’s sentenced to see a therapist or face time spending time in Cook County Juvenile Detention.  


Giles, Gail.  Right Behind You. New York : Little, Brown, 2007.

Fourteen-year-old Kip’s trying to start life over again after spending four years in an institutions for murdering his neighbor.  But can  move to a new state and a new name allow him to start over or is he past always right behind him.


Goodman, Shawn.  Something Like Hope. New York : Delacorte Press, 2011.

Seventeen year-old Shavonne, is back in juvenile lockup, but dreams of a better life. She vows to overcome corrupt guards, out-of-control girls, and her own past to regain hope in her life.


Goodman, Shawn.  Kindness For Weakness. York : Delacorte Press, 2013.

A fifteen-year-old boy from an abusive home desperately seeking his older brother’s love and approval starts pushing drugs for him and suffers the consequences.


Hunter, Travis.  On The Come Up. New York : Kensington, 2011.

DeMarco lives in a high crime area of Atlanta, except when he’s doing time in juvie because at least there he knows he’s got a place to sleep and foot to eat.


Jacobs, Evan.  Self. Destructed. Costa Mesa, CA : Saddleback Publishing,  2014.

High school junior Michael’s life unravels when he brings a gun to school.  With zero tolerance policies in place, one stupid act lands him in prison and then on a parole. his own self-destruction


Jones, Patrick.  Outburst. Minneapolis : Darby Creek, 2014.

After spending time in a juvenile detention center for a crime related to severe anger issues, seventeen-year-old Jada is sent to a foster home and enrolled in an alternative high school, and begins to move past her old life.


Jones,  Patrick.  Returning to Normal. Minneapolis : Darby Creek, 2015.

When Xavier’s father returns to Boston after serving ten years in federal prison, tensions quickly mount and Xavier’s anger explodes on the baseball field, as he will follow his father’s path of a life behind bars.


Key, Watt.  Dirt Road Home.  New York : Farrar Straus Giroux, 2010.

Fourteen-year-old Hal Mitchell doing time at Hellenweiler, a reform school for second-offenders.  Even though he’s inside, he’s anything but safe due to gangs and other threats.


Korman, Gordon.  Juvie Three. New York : Hyperion, 2008.

A humorous story at three friends living in a half-way house and trying to stay out of juvenile detention.


Lascarso, Laura . Counting Backwards. New York : Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2012.

After a reckless crime spree, sixteen-year-old Taylor is sent to a juvenile psychiatric correctional facility where he tries to maintain her sanity despite craziness around her.


McVoy, Terra Elan.  Criminal. New York : Simon Pulse, 2013.

Eighteen-year-old Nikki’s love and devotion to her boyfriend Dee takes a dangerous turn when he involves her in a murder that lands her time in prison while Dee walks free.


Myers, Walter Dean.  Lockdown. New York : HarperTeen, 2010.

Reese feels alone stuck in a juvenile detention facility, but makes an unlikely friend with a shocking history.


Neff, Beth.  Getting Somewhere.New York : Viking, 2012

Four teenaged girls find their times in a progressive juvenile detention facility changes their lives in unexpected ways.


Sanchez, Alex. Bait. New York : Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, ©2009.

Diego’s anger gets him into trouble and on probation.  He’s got one chance to turn his life around, but first he’s got to deal with the trauma in his past.  


Schraff, Anne E.  Unbroken.Costa Mesa, CA : Saddleback Publishing,  2012.

David Morales is out of prison and ready to rejoin society, but he finds life outside almost as difficult as he faces the various barriers to re-entry.


Sitomer, Alan Lawrence.  Homeboyz. New York : Jump at the Sun/Hyperion Books For Children, 2007.

Teenage Teddy’s plot to avenge his sister’s death in a drive-by shooting goes wrong landing him in a California Youth Facility.  He’s released on probation and sentenced to house arrest, but finds the pull of the streets hard to resist


Volponi, Paul.  Black and White. New York : Viking, 2005.

Two star high school basketball players, one black and one white pull a robbery, but when caught, find they have very different experiences in the justice system because of their face. 


VolponiPaul.  Rikers High. New York : Viking, 2010.

Seventeen-year-old Martin Stokes awaits his trial on a minor drug charge in the huge Riker’s complex.  Although he tries to stay out of trouble, trouble has a way of finding him.


Willey, Margaret. Four secrets. Minneapolis : Carolrhoda Lab, 2012.

Three middle school girls journal about the events that lead to their incarceration.

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