Youth Fiction Review: All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook by Leslie Connor

Posted by: TracieP | Posted on: Apr 26 2016

Perry T. Cook is pretty average, as far as 11-year-olds go. He looks forward to favorite meals (especially toasted egg and cheese sandwiches), shares jokes with his mom, and worries about whether or not he'll be able to best the school bully in the mile run for the second year in a row. But unlike most 11-year-olds, the only home Perry has ever known is the Blue River Co-Ed Correctional Facility. His mother is serving a 15-year sentence for manslaughter, and Perry has been born and raised in a prison. It's never felt like a punishment, though; Perry thinks of the inmates as his "extended family." He leaves Blue River to attend school, and even has a best friend (Zoey) on the outside. To Perry, Blue River is simply his home.

Everything changes when a hotshot new lawyer moves into town and learns about Perry's unconventional upbringing, challenging Blue River's practices and "rescuing" Perry by placing him in a foster home. Perry is furious, but determined to make the best of the situation and help his mother achieve parole so that they can start a new life together. Under the premise of a school project, he interviews his mother and other inmates to learn what brought them to Blue River; in the process, he discovers the truth about his mother's charges and promotes empathy within the community.

All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook is a big-hearted slice of realistic fiction that will please fans of novels by Holly Goldberg Sloan, Nora Raleigh Baskin, R.J. Palacio, and Lynda Mullaly Hunt. Filled with complex characters and morally ambiguous situations, this is a perfect pick for classroom discussions and book club groups.