Book Review: Lawless by Jeffrey Salane

Jeffrey Salane
Scholastic Press, April 2013
ISBN 978-0-545-45029-4

No preamble here.  We meet our main character, an adorably plucky twelve year old girl, M Freeman, as she is interviewing for placement in the prestigious Lawless School.  In the blink of an eye, this reader was submerged in adventure, crime, mystery and secrets.

M never really questioned anything.  She was homeschooled, able to avoid the distractions and drama often found in “regular school”.  Bright and curious, M was happy with her studies and content with her life, despite having lost her father in a tragic accident while her maternal parent was an almost absentee mother.  Her trip into the city changed everything.

With no time to prepare, M is yanked from her home to be dropped in the middle of who-knows-where to train for a life in Crime.  That is only the tip of the iceberg.  M knows that most students and staff cannot be trusted and that she alone must figure out who is friend and who is foe simply to survive the grueling training.

One mystery leads to another as M discovers that her father harbored secrets here at Lawless.  Soon, her potential success at Lawless fades into the background as understanding her father becomes priority.  Convinced that her father left messages for her, she vows to solve his puzzle.  Unfortunately, this decision places M and the few students she has chosen to trust, in danger.  M will not only have to face her fears, but she will have to make potentially life-changing, split-second decisions along the way.

Mr. Salane has crafted M Freeman and her story in such a spectacular fashion, that this reader found it remarkably difficult to stop reading.  The intended audience for this book may be Middle School; but it is, quite frankly, too good to be that limited.  Yes, it is certainly suitable for that age group; but anyone that passes this book up because of the genre is self-limiting and missing out.  If you’ve had any interaction with a child between the ages of 10 and 14 you know two things; they tend to have the attention span of a gnat and almost everything gets boring, very quickly.  Mr. Salane clearly understand this and he has a penned a tale that will not disappoint.

Reviewed by jv poore, September 2013.