For more than fifty years now, William Golding’s classic Lord of the Flies has been the default book on bullying for the language arts classroom. While that is unlikely to change in the near future, The 89TH Temple, set on a Buddhist pilgrimage in Japan, is an updated multicultural look on the subject of bullying complete with school sports and field trips, cell phones and blogs, reform schools and electronic surveillance. Whether readers are working in an office or studying in a classroom, they will find plenty to identify with here.
On the island of Shikoku in Japan, there is a pilgrimage of 88 temples. Once an ascetic rite of passage for monks, it has become a more generalized ritual of penance and spiritual rejuvenation for troubled souls. Seven juvenile offenders on leave from various reform schools are doing the 1,300-kilometer pilgrimage on foot with a counselor and some assigned wardens from the state. The youths are under strict observation with at least one of the supervisors with them at all times. Once the seven finish the pilgrimage, they will be released. Will they rejoin society or leave it behind?
The Seven Samurai meets The Fugitive for young adults.
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