Sixteen-year-old Zaine Wyatt has a lot to be angry about. His mother walked out of his life when he was 12, and he was kicked out of his Aunt Sarah's place by his uncle. After living on the streets and getting badly beaten up, he is back at Aunt Sarah's, but Zaine is still angry, afraid, and uncertain that he has a permanent place to live. When his mother breaks yet another promise to take him back, he flees to an empty art studio he has taken refuge in before. But now it is just a storage shed, and he vents his rage by trashing the place and injures the new owner as he flees.
Facing charges and a possible criminal record, Zaine agrees to participate in a restorative justice program to keep from being kicked out again by his aunt. Zaine works to fix the damage he has caused and helps the owner's disabled grandson Lucas get to and from school, but his attempts to stay on the right side of the law are challenged by a group of teens who want to recruit him into a gang. Can Zaine complete the restorative justice program and prove himself worthy of a home, whether with his mother or not?
KAREN SPAFFORD-FITZ is an author and former junior high teacher. Her other SideStreets book Saving Grad was selected as one of The Year's Best by Resource Links. When researching Push Back, Karen relied on the expertise of a restorative justice facilitator who engages troubled youths in meaningful forms of justice and learning. When she is not speaking with students or writing, Karen is often training for her next half marathon. She lives in Edmonton, Alberta.
"The author deals knowledgeably with restorative justice in this book, as well as the procedural requirements of the criminal justice system. This adds another dimension to the story without complicating the narrative or diminishing any of the characters."
"Push Back is an engaging read that will offer opportunities for discussion of the justice system."