Rikers High is about a teenager named Martin who got arrested for “steering” an undercover cop to a place to buy drugs. He is put in a jail for juvenile delinquents called Rikers Island, which is a very famous prison outside of New York City. He is only supposed to be in jail for about two weeks but his case is put off twice, so he has been on Rikers Island for three months instead. He gets transferred to a new section of the jail and has to attend school on the island until his case goes to court.
First and foremost, the main problem that Martin faces is that there are thugs in jail that mess with him and could get him in trouble, and getting in trouble wouldn’t help with his case in court. Because of this, Martin avoids as much trouble with the thugs as possible to guarantee that he will go home to his family and live his life like normal.
In addition Paul Volponi wanted to show what inmates are actually like to the people who may have had false misconceptions about inmates in jail. He shows in the book that there are good-hearted and nice people in jail, and just because they are in jail doesn’t mean that they are terrible people. It could just mean that problems appeared in their life and it has gone downhill. Most characters in the book work hard to get out of jail and get their life back on track. I learned while reading this book that they are still required to go to school even though they are in jail, the book also taught me what life was like in a juvenile jail. The multicultural elements in this book are that all the kids in jail are African-American or Hispanic except for one white boy, and Volponi talks about this in the book using Martin. Martin wonders why only the black and hispanic boys get put in jail while the white boys get off easy.
I enjoyed this book, it gave me a new perspective on what life is like for teenagers in jail and how it changes them and their lives. I liked the characters and how their internal and external conflicts affected them, I can see the characters grow and overcome their problems and learn from their mistakes.
You should definitely read this book. There is suspense all throughout the book and keeps you on your toes wondering what will happen next. As you read, you will start to relate to the characters and grow fond of them. You can feel their pain and struggles as the book progresses.