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Kindness for Weakness

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  952 Ratings  ·  202 Reviews
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 May 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
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 th
Jul 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Apr 16, 2013 rated it liked it
"... 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
Debbie Narh

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 many book references in this novel! Too many for my taste. I can deal with one or two but Kindness for Weakness has around four book references which I found too
Cathy Blackler
May 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
As I read this, I'm reminded of my time working for a boys' home. This book starts off slow. At first I was a little frustrated at how everything was so simplified. The characters were one shade. The motives we're simple but as the book went on everything received depth. With that depth came the character's journey of understanding what it meant to be a man and growing up. This book is incredibly sad and alot of issues are touched on that might trigger some readers.

All I can say is I wish the wo
Gwynette Koch
Jan 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Andrew Hicks
Apr 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya
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
Oct 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
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.
Syd Dares
Mar 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Read this entire book in one sitting. Was left pondering the takeaway messages from it for quite a few hours before I organized my thoughts enough to put together a review.

Fifteen year old James serves as a likeable, sensitive narrator. James comes from a broken home- his father left, his mother has given up on life, her drug-addict boyfriend beats him, and his older brother (whom James idolizes) moved out and left him to his own devices. James has been forced to look out for himself- ducking f
Stephanie A.
Jul 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
"What if Ryan Atwood didn't have Sandy Cohen to bail him out?" is basically the premise of this book, and that is exactly the ride I have wanted on for a long time. It goes dark, so dark that the author has to include a note at the end addressing what compelled him to make it that way, but I think it earns it.

I particularly love how much time we spend getting to know James before he's arrested. He seems like a basically well-meaning but love-starved kid with few avenues of opportunity for succe
May 20, 2017 rated it liked it
I'm torn on this book.

While I did really enjoy the writing and the characterization, this book was just SO hard to read and was incredibly depressing. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE hard-hitting contemporaries (in fact, I'm not a big fan of light/fluffy contemporaries) but usually, every book with this tone at least has SOME silver-lining, but this didn't.

I'm giving it a 3-3.5 star rating because of the overall depressing reading experience and just some pacing issues I had with it, personally.
Aug 05, 2017 rated it liked it
This was SO DEPRESSING. I mean, obviously it was depressing, but seriously. Depressing. All the more so because it's based on true events.
Mar 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Kindness for Weakness was an amazing book! It is about this boy named James and he has no friends, nothing to do and a really bad family situation. His brother moved away and he is living with his mother and abusive stepfather. All he does is go to school, wish he had a different life and walk. He walks to forget about his life and think of what he could have instead. His brother calls him up one day and asks him to do him a favor. him and his brother go and sell drugs because his brother lost h ...more
Jarod Whaley
Feb 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Kindness For Weakness by Shawn Goodman is about a kid who finds himself in the middle of family troubles and just wants out. His father left when he was just a little boy and his mother has been in and out of relationships ever since. She has found ways into cigarettes, drugs, and alcohol. Her latest boyfriend has abused the family and ruined the relationship James and his mother did have. James has an older brother named Louis that has moved out and so they think, has started a great life. But ...more
James Jessup
Mar 05, 2017 rated it liked it
I didn't enjoy this book. I feel like the plot wasn't exactly what i was expecting at the beginning. The author did a good job giving us descriptions about the main character but i feel as if the they could of given more background about the other characters. I wouldn't recommend this book. I feel as if the plot continued to change and i couldn't get interested to the book.
Apr 10, 2015 rated it liked it
I wasn't sure what to expect from Kindness for Weakness, since the blurb is very vague. What I got was a really dark story about a boy who has no one but himself, and is trying to survive a difficult situation while finding connection. James has a terrible home life, and he's just trying to get by. He starts working for his brother as a delivery boy. James has no idea what he's delivering, but he wants to do well for his brother. Then he gets arrested and thrown into juvie where he needs to toug ...more
Jul 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Merrilyn Tucker
Jul 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 15, 2015 rated it it was ok
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
May 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Amy Heno
Oct 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Wow. This was hard to put down; and when I did, I couldn't stop thinking about it. A powerful story of a young boy with no guidance or support who winds up in Juvie. Ironically, he learns to become a man, but also torn apart by violence and brutality around him. This books sheds light on too many areas we turn a blind eye to in society; especially for those young men most at risk living in a world where "kindness is a sign of weakness."
Jacob Sieberg
it was good
Sep 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Even if this book wasn't one of the Eliot Rosewater nominees for 2107, I'd want to read it because Ruta Sepetys, one of my favorite new YA authors (who also has a book on the Rosie list) has a cover blurb claiming this book is a meeting between "Monster" and "The Catcher in the Rye." To me, this is an intriguing combination, so I snapped it up.

I found the story of James, a 15 year old kid who has been abandoned by his father, neglected by his mother, abused by her boyfriend and all but forgotte
May 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018-read, netgalley
I was given a copy of this title, free, in exchange for my honest opinion. 

In short, this story is about James. He is fifteen years old and lives with his mother and her abusive boyfriend. His father left when he was 5 and his brother, Louis,  has also left, and while they do interact with each other it is only on Louis' terms and usually when Louis needs something. 

James is a quiet character who walks to erase the hunger pains, and meets with his English teacher to discuss books and drink root
Andrew Mattson
Jul 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I started this book this morning and I couldn’t put it down. Shawn Goodman’s previous work as a school psychologist really showed through in this story as it was very honest and real about the struggles many teenagers face when they grow up in abusive homes or with neglectful parents and turn to the streets where they get caught in a vicious cycle of drug and gang violence that brings them in and out of prison.

The protagonists James is a character you just can’t help. It emphasizes with and roo
Harold Millican
Apr 14, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: library-discards
This book is coming of age novel about a boy's journey through city life and a lack of connection with positive male role models. I might paraphrase this time as: The Sea Change. There is a continual conversation about nature versus nurture that informs the internal struggle between the main character, James and his minor characters, Freddy, Horvath, Samson, etc. I have to admire this book because it's probably one of the first YA novels I've read in which the African-American character doesn't ...more
Eric Kusuma
May 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
So for this deep and realistic novel by Shawn Goodman, named Kindness For Weakness is an story that uses realism that i picked up from my teacher's desk, she said that she had a extra book that i could read. With a mixture of suicide, realism, and suspense this took to be a story that i couldn't stop reading as it was just so real and i wanted to learn from this. For starters is when the boy James starts off with him getting transported on a helicopter because of some tragic experience that had ...more
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Summuray 1 3 Oct 18, 2017 02:09PM  
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“If life is hard and we don't celebrate the small accomplishments, what's left?” 7 likes
“Maybe Wolf Larsen was right, and life is simply a mess. Maybe the strong eat the weak so they can stay strong. Maybe that's all there is.” 1 likes
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