Rummanah Aasi
  I vaguely recall a reality TV show of a teenage boot camp, a "conditioning" facility where parents send their "unruly" teens in order to change them for the better. Little did I know that these facilities actually exist. Todd Strasser, author of the amazing Give a Boy a Gun, has written a book that takes the reader inside the boot camp experience.

Description: Garrett comes from a rich family and goes to a good private school where he is a straight-A student headed for an Ivy League college. He has experimented with smoking pot, but he's definitely not a "pothead." According to his parents, his one unforgivable offense is his sexual relationship with one of his teachers, a woman eight years his senior, makes him unruly and hard to control. According to Garrett, he has done nothing wrong and he believes he is getting punished just because his choices don't reflect what his parents want from his life. Garrett refuses to end his relationship with his teacher and he finds himself being transported to Lake Harmony, a boot camp that promises to change every out of control teen to an obedient and respectful teenager.
   Garrett soon realizes that Lake Harmony is anything but harmonious. Lake Harmony offers nothing but torture, brainwashing, poor living conditions, disgusting food, and limited parental contact. Teens in the program spend anywhere from one to three years suffering in this boot camp until most are finally released with broken, damaged spirits or when they turn 18 years old.
   Garrett meets Pauly and Stephanie, both teens who are desperately seeking an escape from the boot camp. The three of them devise a plan to escape Lake Harmony, but will they be successful?


Review: Boot Camp is a shocking and an appalling read. I found myself gasping at the physical and emotional abuse that Garrett and the other teens go through at Lake Harmony. Most of the torture scenes reminded me of the conditioning scenes of A Clockwork Orange, a book that terrified me and which prevented me from sleeping for at least 2 weeks straight. There were a few plot points that didn't add up to me, such as Garrett befriending one adult warden who doesn't agree with how are things run at Lake Harmony and who refuses to do anything about it. I was a bit annoyed that Garrett's illicit relationship with his teacher isn't taken seriously and is not explored. Although I don't condone Lake Harmony, I do believe that the problems of the teens there are not discussed. Overall, I think the raw and shocking details of Lake Harmony would appeal to reluctant readers and spark discussions.

Rating: 3 stars

Words of Caution: There are lots of scenes of physical and emotional abuse throughout the book. There is also some language.

If you like this book, try: Unwind by Neal Shusterman or Give a Boy a Gun by Todd Strasser
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