Boot Camp

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Residential CARE
Todd Strasser
Simon & Schuster
238 pages. $15.99.

Talk about fiction ripped from the news pages: Fifteen-year-old Garrett can’t believe that his parents sent him to Lake Harmony, a “boarding school specializing in intensive behavior modification.” His parents freaked when he refused to stop dating his ex-teacher, but he’s a peaceful, straight-A student.

Now, Garrett is strip-searched, left to sleep on a bare mattress and ridiculed in front of other kids. When he fails to respond correctly, he is dragged to “TI” – Temporary Isolation – to lie face down on a filthy concrete floor for a week. That’s before things get tough.

Until Garrett truly believes he was wrong and swears to obey his parents, he’ll keep getting beatings. Can this brainwashing break him? Is there a way out? Nail-biting suspense cranks up until the last, chilling moment.

Strasser bases his riveting novel on news stories about a “secret prison system for teenagers.” When the Stop Child Abuse in Residential Programs for Teens Act was recently introduced in Congress, testimonies of former program participants at a congressional hearing echoed Strasser’s depiction. For more on that, see the story on page 5. (800) 223-2336,