Dirt Road Home
By Watt Key
(Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR), Hardcover, 9780374308636, 224pp.)
Publication Date: July 20, 2010
Other Editions of This Title: Paperback
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After his recapture at the end of ALABAMA MOON, gutsy 14-year-old Hal Mitchell is sentenced to live at Hellenweiler, an institution that is more like a jail than the boys' home it's supposed to be. Hal could walk out in just a few months if he keeps out of trouble. But in a place like Hellenweiler, the more he tries to avoid the gangs and their violence, the stronger Hal's fellow inmates try to make him fail.
Albert Watkins Key, Jr., publishing under the name Watt Key, is an award-winning southern fiction author. He grew up and currently lives in southern Alabama with his wife and family. Watt spent much of his childhood hunting and fishing the forests of Alabama, which inspired his debut novel, Alabama Moon, published to national acclaim in 2006. Alabama Moon won the 2007 E.B. White Read-Aloud Award and has been translated in seven languages. Key’s second novel, Dirt Road Home, was published in 2010.
“The tension, positioning, threats, and shifting alliances among the boys are believable and will hook readers.” –School Library Journal
“Key nicely paces his tale, steadily building the tension . . . . There’s more than enough action to keep the fidgitiest adolescent boy glued to the page here.” –Mobile Press-Register
“With authentic characters and a candid first-person narrative, Key's story offers a disturbing appraisal of life in a juvenile facility, and a riveting battle for justice.” –Publishers Weekly
“The short chapters, quick pacing, and plentiful dialogue make Key's impressive second effort an especially appealing choice for reluctant boy readers.” –Horn Book
“A gripping tale of a 14-year-old caught in a justice system that is not about justice at all.” –Kirkus Reviews
“Hal quickly learns that the boys who want to fight him aren’t his real challenge—it’s the guards who allow it to happen.” –Birmingham Magazine
“…Hal’s efforts to contain his rage and navigate brawls keep the atmosphere tense and pacing fleet… for comeuppance it doesn’t get much more satisfying.” –Booklist
“I really liked the book Dirt Road Home. This was the most realistic book I’ve ever enjoyed. The characters did what I think what real people would do.” —Travis, age 11, as part of the Blue Willow readers program