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3.78 of 5 stars 3.78  ·  rating details  ·  101 ratings  ·  39 reviews
After two years in a loving home, TJ's mother got him back. She was clean. No pot. No meth. His chest felt like it was burning. His heart was racing. Trapped. He felt trapped. He didn't have a say. Everything he had come to care about would be gone: Miss Dixie, hot meals, friends, Mae's little hand, and Annabelle. And the brutal life he'd escaped quickly reclaimed him. Kad...more
Paperback, 197 pages
Published January 1st 2012 by Saddleback Educational Publishing, Inc.
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Paul Kowalyszyn
An engaging story just right for struggling readers at the middle and high school levels.
TJ had a taste of the good life after his father over-dosed on Meth and he was taken away from his drug addict mother. TJ landed in foster care with Miss Dixie. There he met people who were struggling just like him, but he also found affection and stability. He ate good food, had a safe place to sleep, and did well in school. When the social worker comes to pick him up after two years in Miss Dixie's loving home, TJ is angry, confused, and scared. Why does he have to go back to a mother who neve...more
Author: L. B. Tittle
Published By: Saddleback Publishing
Recommend Age: 14+
Reviewed By: Arlena Dean
Raven Rating:4
Blog Reviewed For: GMTA
"Unchained" by L. B. Tittle was very interesting read. I found it very interesting to see how L.B. Tittle was able to get this family on the right path from..the mother having been strung out on pot and meth...father dying of drug overdose and the child (TJ) heading in the wrong direction of life due to drugs and gangs.

This novel is definitely for the stud...more
TJ has had a rough life. Both his parents have been hooked on drugs since he was a baby. He's been neglected for as long as he can remember. Being left on his own most of the time it's no surprise he comes into contact with the gangs of the community. He is just about to get heavily involved when disaster strikes at home and he is removed by Child Protective Services and placed in a foster home.

When TJ moves in with Miss Dixie, he is introduced to a world like he never knew existed. There, he l...more
Booktalk- TJ has a hard life. He lives with his mom and his dad but all they care about are drugs and alcohol. For as long as TJ can remember, he has had to fend for himself. When TJ's dad suddenly dies and the police find his home unfit, he is taken away to a foster home. He hates the other foster kids; hates that he has to start in a new school; hates that decisions are made for him. But as TJ adjusts to this new life, he realizes that he may have finally found a home and people who love him....more
Zach S
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. It has a good story line, but the style of writing is not as great as I had hoped. The book lacked much detail but was full of emotion. It did really captured the reader. It is about a boy named T.J. whose father died from drug overdose and whose mother is a drug addict. He struggles between his family and his gang life. He is taken in by a foster home where he is truly cared for. He gets to know people and begins to do better in school after a couple year...more
TJ Young's parents are drug addicts and they live from day to day, never knowing where food or any necessity of life will come from. When TJ finds his father dead from a drug overdose, TJ is put into foster care and into the home of Miss Dixie. There, he finds love, acceptance, food, and friends. He finally feels as if he belongs somewhere and has a family...even though they all are different. Annabelle, the girl with red hair and a fragile exterior reaches out to him and they become each other'...more
This book caught my attention quickly because it represents the situation that many of my students live in. I was swept away in TJ's story and the challenges he faced. It is hard to see someone so young faced with drugs and getting pulled into a gang. By the end of the book, I was proud of the choices he was making, and the intelligence & maturity he showed. This is a book I think many children in certain areas will be able to identify with and enjoy reading.
Ms. Yingling
TJ's mother is strung out on pot and meth; his father has died of a drug overdose. While his mother is getting clean, he is sent into foster care, where he does very well. He enjoys school and does well, learns to get along with his siblings, and is free of the concerns of having drug addled parents in a gang infested neighborhood. When his mother is released, however, he has to go back to her and gets sucked back into the gang. Determined not to follow his father's path, he tries to exist insid...more
Mrs. Cubby Culbertson
"Don't waste your life trying to become someone you're not." Good quote to sum up this story.

Reading the opening chapters, I found myself thinking, I can't do this one...it is dark, seemingly with no hope as TJ begins to build a wall to hide/protect his true feelings...too much like the lives many of my students have to witness or live themselves. Then the tide turns.... I thought, ok, there is hope, everything will work out...but I'm only half way through the story. Yep, there's the u-turn, b...more
T.J.'s parents are both drug addicts, and he's never had a comforting home life. He has always been on his own and has found that being mean and tough is the only way he'll survive. He is romanced by a local gang, but when his father dies, he is sent to live in a foster home on the other side of town and experiences love and regular meals for the first time.

Life is good for T.J., for a while. But when his mother gets clean, he is returned to her and has to face the same gang that he escaped from...more
Quick Picks Winner:
TJ is a boy with a difficult family life. His parents are addicted to drugs and he feels invisible in his home. Feeling unloved and unwanted, he gets swept up in the beginnings of gang life even though he is not sure that's where he wants to be. When his father dies suddenly, TJ is taken from his home and put in foster care. This event changes his life tremendously, but can it change his life permanently?

TJ's character lets his guard down and allows the reader to see who he re...more
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Jamie Hackett
This is a fabulous book and I recommend this book to anyone that likes realistic books. I rated this book with five starts because its very suspenseful and well written.
The story was interesting and I did enjoy it, however both the characters and the story were told on a superficial level, never bringing the reader inside. Almost half the book felt like a ‘tell’, giving the reader the impression that the main character was just rattling off what was going on around him. Near the end we were brought a little more inside and the flow of the story improved.

A more careful editing of the book is encouraged.

In reading up on the publisher, Saddleback Publishing, I lea...more
Shannon Schmelz
Quick and easy read. Very realistic and relatable. Life is all about making the right choices for TJ. No matter how hard he tries to be part of the gang, he realizes that will never be who he is deep down inside.
David C
This book is about a kid named T.J. his parents didn't care for him much.they were alcoholics and did drugs.one day his dad died. the police came and took T.J away from his mother till she stops doing drugs and being sober. They took him to a foster home he falls in love with some girl and moves back with his mom he goes back to the same school and meet this kid that forced T.J to join a gang. One day his rival gang shot and killed all his gang members he runs away tells his mom that he wants to...more
This book had great detailing about how TJ's life. He was a brave boy who basically grew up on his own.
Jenni Frencham
I didn't think I'd like this book. TJ is a foster kid, and his foster family rescues him from a life of running from or joining a gang. But once his mother cleans up her act, she gets custody of TJ (and an extra government handout, of course), and his life begins to spiral downward. I was sure this book would have a discouraging, depressing ending, but TJ does turn his life around and starts making better choices in the end. A short, quick read, I would keep this book on my shelf for kids who do...more
It was an ok book. It would be a good book for a reluctant reader.
Great for some of my high school students.
A good urban hi/lo. The plot moves well, you can sympathize with the main character's dilemma, and the book balances gritty content with good moral choices. Perhaps some thought processes could have been developed more, but that may have been at the expense of the narrative speed. Also, it felt Annabelle's actions seemed unrealistic, given her history: however, as I am not familiar the the effects of that kind of trauma, I can't say if my feelings mirror reality.
Shaeley Santiago
Not my usual taste in books, but this story about a kid who tries to avoid becoming part of a gang and then sees gang membership as his only option for survival is one that some of my students would enjoy. It's also a reflection on the social services system and the challenges of breaking out of a negative cycle when you're a teen living with parents who are involved in drugs. #hubchallenge
For the reluctant reader, this book offers a fast pace, a strong sense of drama and of place. But most of the characters are stereotypes, and seem to have no purpose beyond serving TJ's personal development. I think Tillit really knows her subjects - urban life and social services, the dangers of gang life - but overall her portrayal felt flat.
Deb Tyo
High school content. Good Hi-Lo book for older readers. Short chapters. Short sentence structure.

Boy has bad home life. Boy is sent to good foster home. Boy is sent back to bad home life. Boy chooses gang. Boy decides to make his own 'choice'.

"Don't waste your life trying to become someone you're not."

A good book for high school students who struggle with reading texts that have big words. The plot is good and fast paced. You don't see many books that take place in your modern day cities with kids facing adult like problems. over-all a really well written book and unpredictable.
Chantal St. Peter
I loved this book! It was a very new take on gangs and drugs. It had so many unexpected events and a little bit of everything. There was a little bit of suspense, danger, romance, I think this book would be a good fit for anyone.
I think the book was nice,his parents really wasn't in his life but they were there jus wasn't no good paretns.But I liked the book even when he got taken away from his parents.
Easy easy read. L.B Tillit did a good job at explaining what could happen to any child in this situation.
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