Kindness for Weakness
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Kindness for Weakness

3.85 of 5 stars 3.85  ·  rating details  ·  261 ratings  ·  73 reviews
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest meets Catcher in the Rye.

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.
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published May 14th 2013 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers (first published January 1st 2013)
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Sarah (YA Love)
Review originally posted at YA Love

Shawn Goodman’s sophomore release, Kindness for Weakness, made me feel an array of emotions: hope, grief, dismay, and more. I absolutely loved Something Like Hope, so when I featured Kindness for Weakness on Waiting on Wednesday, Shawn offered to send me an ARC of it. I had requested a copy via NetGalley, and hadn’t received a response yet, so I accepted his kind offer. Regardless of how I received a copy of this book, I thoroughly enjoyed it and can’t wait to...more
A strong 3.5, especially because of its potential boy appeal and reluctant reader appeal. Always nice to have those qualities for the recommendation arsenal.

James tells his story in first person, a story of poverty, isolation. He subsists in a home with a weak mother who bends to the will of her meth-head abusive boyfriend and has already lost one son because of it. Louis simply left, remaking himself as a bodybuilder and a drug dealer to gain some control. He has cut ties with his family even t...more
Initial reaction: Probably somewhere between 4 and 4.5 stars. I'm not sure, I don't think I've quite recovered from the ending and how the book really took a dark turn after some time, though it was dark to begin with in this story of a boy who was caught in a very tough lifestyle, made terrible choices, had some glimmer of hope in stages, but, I think I'll leave that for my extended review.I thought this book was very well done. Really wish I'd read it sooner.

Full review:

I thin...more
"... I smile inwardly, thinking that maybe there are such things as second chances."

There are, James, and I wish you would have realized sooner that strength isn't just a bodily measure. I wish you could have been the one to rise up against the tide of hate and fear. You should have gotten that second chance.

Review of SLJ Teen:

"Kindness for Weakness follows the story of James, a teenager who has lived his whole life surrounded by a lost and broken family. With an alcoholic mother and an abusive...more
Abbe "The Sexy Gryffindor" Hinder

I was really rooting for this one. I loved the beginning, it's very strong and exciting. It starts with a flashback and then we learn about where it sort of began.But after awhile, James's story starts to get boring and at many times, he feels like a brick wall, only relying on books and other people to build his character up.

There are manybook references in this novel! Too many for my taste. I can deal with one or two butKindness for Weaknesshas around four book references which I found too co...more
Kindness For Weakness reminded me a lot of Lockdown by Walter Dean Myers. Each book is centered around a teenage male protagonist who's incarcerated in a juvenile detention center. And each is a good kid, smart and focused enough to himself out of his situation, if he can just resist the bait put in front of him by the brain-dead future cons trying to drag him down. An authority character in Lockdown compares it to a bucket of crabs - that rare individual with a chance of reaching the top wil...more
Cathy Blackler
Goodman's heart wrenching account of boys trying to become men gives readers a glimpse into the darkness that takes over without the proper guidance during this critical journey. I have a fondness for books that reference other books, exposing the layers and connections a reading life can offer, and this one is filled with literary references that serve as anchors during the storm. Sadly, I see too many of my students within Goodman's characters; boys who believe in the "kindness for weakness" p...more
Jan 14, 2014 C.R. rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone
3.5-4 stars

A gem of a book. Discovered this book while growing through New YA section at my local library. The title caught my eye and I was highly surprised at how much the book grasped me. As a YA fiction fan, Its funny enough to say that I've never read a book that deals with the juvenile incarnation system and boy was happy to read such an honesty and enlightening story. I think everyone grows a lil bit rough, James was an easy retable character who has to learn what it means to be a man ins...more
You guys, I just recently gobbled up Kindness For Weakness by Shawn Goodman which really hit my intellectual sweet spots. I mean, I started this book the same day that I DNFed a contemporary book and basically read all of Kindness For Weakness in a single sitting – including about 88% of the book while I was on the exercise bike. Goodman’s book has a stellar main character and then actually made me think deeply about issues in our society AND made me want to read this classic Jack London book th...more
Merrilyn Tucker
If you are kind, then certain people think you are weak. In the world James lives in, he is considered weak and that is a liability. He is a lonely teenager living a life amongst lowlifes and criminals and he wants something better for himself, to become a good man. How does he go from where he is now to where he wants to be? James decides to help his brother, Louis, by selling some drugs for him as a favor. Of course, James gets caught and is thrown into juvie. This place is tough, but there is...more
Good book. Its about a young man who is looking for someone to show him how to be a man. His mother has remarried a man who treats her like dirt. His older brother moved out of the home leaving him there by himself. The stepfather hits the mother and the young man. The older brother wants nothing to do with the family nor his brother, except when he gets his younger brother to do something illegal that changes both their lives forever.
Shannon Grieshaber
James is a lost boy. Dad left. Mom is a mess; she lives with her boyfriend, Ron, who is awful. Of course, James lives there, too, but there is no room for him. Literally. He sleeps on the couch. He spends as little time at "home" as possible, preferring to walk and walk around his town - occasionally stopping by the river to read a book or watch the fishermen. James does have someone to look up to - his brother, Louis. Louis couldn't stand Ron, so he left home at 18. He has his own apartment, an...more
May 26, 2014 Leo rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: rwr
I enjoyed this book because you really learn what true brotherhood and friendship is. James, the main character, is helping his brother with earning money by helping him sell drugs. He gets caught and is sent to Juvenile , but the real meaning is the relationship between James and his brother that is heartbreaking. James loves and cares for his brother but his brother doesn't seem to care. As he spends time in jail, James start to wonder about life and starts to worry. At the end of the book tho...more
James has little to hold on to except his love for his disintegrating family. After he's sent to a detention center for dealing drugs, he has to figure out how to survive there without transforming into something he doesn't want to be. A meditation on the construction of manhood, told by a narrator it's easy to empathize with. Much like James's feelings about The Sea Wolf, I felt that (view spoiler)...more
Although Kindness for Weakness isn't your typical "happily ever after" story, be prepared for a seriously eye-opening experience. Expect to be educated, and while you may feel terrible throughout the process, you will likely have a new-found appreciation for your life. After discovering what the title Kindness for Weakness means, you will have a better understanding of a broken system and broken lives. Author Shawn Goodman has insider knowledge of New York's juvenile justice system as he worked...more
Denise (TeenBookLook)
*** Content Analysis only ***

First Glance:

Portrait of 15 year old James' life in prison.

Double Take:
Graphic Violence
67 F-words
125 additional profanities (stronger than 'hell' & 'damn')
Underage drinking/drug use

Another Look:

"be prepared for a seriously eye-opening experience. Expect to be educated, and while you may feel terrible throughout the process, you will likely have a new-found appreciation for your life. After discovering what the title Kindness for Weakness means, you will
This is not normally the kind of book I read. At all. But there was just something so intriguing about "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest meets Catcher in the Rye," that I couldn't resist picking it up.

James is used to taking care of himself. Since his mom got together with her abusive boyfriend and his brother left, James can only find solace in his books and conversations over a cold glass of root beer with his English teacher. But when James gets into trouble helping out his brother, he finds...more
Waiting For Wentworth
I really wasn't sure what to think about Kindness For Weakness going into it, but I ended up really loving it. I cried on more than one occasion, and maybe I'm more emotional than some, but I felt this was an unexpectedly powerful story.

I really felt for the protagonist, James, because he had such a crappy home life. With a piece of junk mother and an even worse step-father, James prefers to walk the streets alone than spend time in the same house with them. It was so bad at home that his older...more
Turn your cheek. Yes, we have all heard the saying but who can actually do that when the chips are down. I thought of this saying a lot when I read this book as fifteen-year old James tries to do that many times but it’s ole’ so hard. James lives with his mother and his stepfather, I guess you call it living if you sleep on the sofa and you leave early so you can avoid a beating (verbally and mentally) from your stepfather. The mother, yes she has checked out years ago. His brother Louis, James...more
First of all, I want to say that this book is really an amazing, good read! I actually picked it up by random from the library!

Basically, here's the summary of what the book is about. James (no mentioned surname), a 15-year-old boy who lives in Dunkirk - a small town in western New York. He's got no friends. Friendless. His family is not on good terms. The only person he's got is his brother, Louis - strong, tough, and all with muscles - and looks up to him like he's some kind of hero who can sa...more
Actual Rating 4.5 stars

As seen on The Quiet Concert

The synopsis for this book does not reveal much so I didn't really know what to expect when picking up Kindness for Weakness. I guess my love of contemporary and male POV is what really compelled me. That, and what we do get in terms of a summary hints at a serious and thought-provoking story. Whatever the reason, I am so glad I read this book because it was every bit as eye-opening as I thought it would be. Shawn Goodman told a story that neede...more
Kim Graff
More of my reviews can be found at YA Asylum.


Pros : The start is so interesting. There's high tension, James (the MC) comes off as sweet and loveable, and you're going to want to know what happens next.

Cons : It's what I classify as a False Start, which is a dream, a flashback, a flash-forward, or anything like that. You know, that thing that's done to grab your attention and keep you reading when the real start isn't as intense. In this case, it's a flash-forward. The first ch...more
Review first appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7

I received a copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

I don't even know where to start with Shawn Goodman's young adult contemporary novel Kindness for Weakness. This novel is so good, that I devoured it in one sitting.

I. Could. Not. Put. It. Down.

Funny how I was wary of it at first--a teenager sent to prison because of his relentless need for approval from a less than stellar big brother? I honestly didn't know how this was going to...more
Julie Wolfe
I rented it from the library thinking that it looked good, but it took me a while to pick it up. Once I did - I read it though in three hours. This account of one boy's life in juvie seems to be an honest interpretation of the world from the boy's point of view. James narrates with a clarity that gives the reader a picture and insight into his view, but the reader has to step back to see the truth behind all of what he is saying. The author created a commentary on American culture, recidivism, m...more
James doesn’t know who he is or what he stands for. He feels weak. He feels he’s not a man. He’s been left behind, abused and misused by his family and has no friends to speak of. His mom chooses drugs and scumbag boyfriend before James and his brother Louis. Louis, is someone James admires, but Louis left him behind and moved out. Louis asks James to help him out with some work and James, aiming to please his brother accepts. But- this isn’t just any job, it’s dealing drugs door to door and soo...more
This is one of those books that I think is for adults who like ya. I don't know many actual teens who have the kind of perspective it takes to appreciate this book. I'm sure there are some. It is a sad book because it is a true book. I know it is fiction, but it tells a truth about teens in poverty that is really hard and heartbreaking. But, it is beautifully told.
Tough One

Read in 2013,YA,Good for Dudes

Kindness for Weakness was an eARC I received through netgalley and one I thoroughly enjoyed. I blew through it quickly because it was one of those books that sucks you in right away, with a main character, James, who is completely real and sympathetic.
James has a mother who never should have been a mother: she is a drunk and lives with an abusive jerk who beats her and James both. He has an older brother, a poser-creep drug dealer who drags James into his...more
Heather Loy
Would have given four stars, but for a plot device that I felt was unnecessary or used to either shock or hurry the ending. I can't write it here without giving the story away. The outcome could still have come about without this particular tactic. I was disappointed.
Paul Lunger
Scheduled for release in May, Shawn Goodman's "Kindness for Weakness" is a book that will grab your attention & should get a lot of attention later on in the year. The story revolves around James a teenager who comes from a broken home & who gets caught in an honest mistake set up by his older brother that lands him in the NY juvenile corrections institute. It is there that James grows up from being the boy he is into a much stronger character through the interactions with a wide variety...more
Paul Cumbo
This was a nicely written story that felt underdeveloped in certain areas, including the protagonist's relationship with his mother and brother. It read a bit more like a short story than a novel, since it seemed to gloss over too many areas in which one would expect a bit more development in a novel. Throughout the course of the book, I found myself empathizing with James; however, at the end, I wasn't that upset by what happened. I don't know if enough happened for me to care too deeply. All i...more
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