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Kindness for Weakness

3.86 of 5 stars 3.86  ·  rating details  ·  447 ratings  ·  118 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
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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
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
Andrew Hicks
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 ...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
"... 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
Abbe "The Awesome Senior" 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
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
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.
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
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
I began reading with a completely misplaced assumption that this novel belonged in the same genre that Sarah Dessen might fall into, that being short, uplifting, girly, young-adult books that fly by in a tornado of page turning. Though I can assure you most of all of those categorizations are untrue,the latter still stands; while the story of this 15-year-old underprivileged boy's trials and epiphanies while doing time in a youth correctional facility will always be a good story, I was not expec ...more
dnf @ 48%

i wanted to like this book a lot, i really, really did but for some reason, i was just bored as hell. maybe it's because i've been reading too many adult books for the mindset of a fifteen year-old boy with no life experience whatsoever to do much more than irritate/bore me, but everything this main character said or did felt whiny to me, personally. the whole point of this book, however, is that he's decidedly "not a man" and he's trying to, in a The Sea Wolf fashion, "become a man," s
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
Donna Burtwistle-Popplewell
A highly recommended novel---James is a thoughtful and lonely 15 year old, desperate to find his way. Ignored by his demoralized mother, regularly tormented by his stepfather, and kept at arm's length by his older brother, James fills his days by walking the streets, reading novels recommended by a teacher who sees brilliance in him and generally hoping that he will soon develop the courage to be strong and face his abusers.

When his brother uses him for the illegal delivery of drugs, he is arre
This is one of those books you want to hand to a teen who you see could go down a bad path. We see them daily, try to befriend them, talk to them, encourage them. It's a great cautionary tale - not quite 'Catcher in the Rye' as the heading suggests, but certainly a Walter Dean Myers/ One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest book baby.

It follows the story of James, whose home life is beyond desperate, his big brother Louis who deals and blows him off, his mother who is a shadow of her former self after his
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Amy H
This is going on my top 5 favorite books.

I have worked in juvenile placement for a long time. This book is totally true. This story follows a boy who has a broken home and no one to look up to. His brother is a big time drug dealer and sends him to be his mule. He of course get arrested and now has to spend the next year in placement

This story then shows a innocent boy learning to be a man in placement. He is faced with tons of new life choices. IS there anyone he can trust? the only thing that
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
Ariel Russell
Kindness for Weakness Shawn Goodman

Bibliographic Information:
Goodman, S. (2013). Kindness for weakness. New York: Delacorte Press.

Genre: Fiction (Secondary)
Format: E-book
Award Source: Quick Pick Winner

This book is about hope, despair, grief, isolation, tug of war, change and sorrow. Some of the events that occur are a part of the stories of the life of teens today. This family goes through hard times struggles and good times too. With the help of mentors it appears as if the story is going to tu

James a 15-year old friendless kid with nowhere to go. He desperately wants his older brother Luis to accept him and save him from their mother who has given up, on everything and their abusive, drug abusing, alcoholic step-father. So when Luis asks for James to work for him, James readily accepts, even if it means delivering drugs. Unfortunately, Luis hasn't told James everything, so when the cops show up James panics and runs. Not fast enough...

Now he has to spend 12 months in a youth detentio
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
Eh, this was okay. I actually read the first half a few weeks ago, got bored, and put it down, but made myself finish it today. It was rewarding, to see James' journey starting on his path instead of following his brother, and wanting to be like him, because let me tell you, Louis was no prize. But I just didn't feel any connection to anything - the plot, the characters. I thought it was totally wrong what the guards were doing to the kids inside, and unfair, but it didn't get me that riled up. ...more
For my reading challenge, I needed to read a book set in high school. While this book doesn't take place in that exact setting, the characters are high school age and so I'll count it:) This book opened my eyes to the world of juvenile detention "juvie". It follows a decent kid with a horrible home life who makes some bad choices and ends up in this world. He's a nice kid and soft-spoken and the book drew me in with how he handled this completely different life. Lots of disturbing stuff here and ...more
Anika Sanyal
Kindness for Weakness, written by Shawn Goodman, is about James, a 15 year-old boy, who lives in a small town with his mother and her boyfriend, Ron. Ron tortures James, but James’ mother does nothing to stop it. Louis, James’ older brother, is a strong man, but sells drugs for a living. James starts dealing drugs for his brother and gets sent to Morton, a juvie, when he gets caught. At Morton, James gets bullied. Freddie, a homosexual boy James befriends, also gets picked on by the other boys a ...more
This was a quick read, barely over 250 pages and chapters that lasted 2-4 pages each. It is realistic fiction, which is what made me interested in it. No insta-love - or romance at all - to be found here, no quirky sidekicks who exist only in fiction, point A to point B, or perfect endings.

Kindness For Weakness is about a fifteen-year-old boy, James, who has an abusive home life and finds himself being taken to a violent juvenile detention center after naively dealing drugs for his brother. Dur
"Kindness for weakness"is a code for the boys in this book; a code where compassion and generosity is understood as something for which only a person who is nothing less than weak and vulnerable would stoop down for.

This book shed a shockingly real and dark light on juvie facilities and its occupants. It goes to show that boys who were given the short end of the stick in life have little to live for, and no one to show them how to turn their life around and live for something worthwhile; someth
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 wil
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
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