Gecko Fosse drove the getaway car for another of his brother Ruben's thieving escapades. Arjay Moran fought back against some bullies, and one was killed accidentally after a punch. Terence Florian planned a robbery that others in a Chicago gang he wanted to join committed. All are in lockup and miserable.
Douglas Healy designed a pilot program for juvenile offenders. These three are chosen to live with him in an apartment, go to school, attend therapy sessions and be involved in community service. One slip-up and the boys will go back to prison.
Terence has no intention of toeing the line; he aims to run away as soon as possible. Gecko and Arjay know that if he disappears, they will be sent back. One night, while the three are arguing, Healy tries to intervene and is accidentally knocked unconscious. The boys drop him off at a hospital and live in fear of the consequences.
Nothing happens the next day, and they all go to school and work as if nothing happened. Gecko sneaks into the hospital to learn that Healy has no memory of who he is or what had occurred. In order to keep an eye on him, Gecko pretends to be a volunteer there. Then he meets Roxanne, another volunteer, and falls in love. Roxanne's wealthy, well-connected family threatens him, and he does not want to return to prison.
Arjay makes Gecko and Terence do their homework and keep all appointments so no one will suspect Healy is gone. But he also sneaks in some guitar practice at school and with a band at a nightclub. He finds success beyond his dreams, but knows he is now jeopardizing his freedom and those of his two friends as he becomes more known.
Meanwhile, Terence tries to get in with a gang again, finding a way to set up another robbery to court favor. When that doesn't make them accept him, and when they ask him to do something truly harmful to another person, he realizes that this is not who he wants to be. But now he has made some bad guys quite angry.
Healy is transferred to a mental institution because he still doesn't know who he is. Gecko, Arjay and Terence know they can't let him stay in that awful place; they need to band together and find some allies to help them out. Very few trust them with their criminal past, and many would just as soon see them all get sent back to prison.
The clock is ticking for all of them. The dialogue and brotherhood developing among the three boys speak true amidst a crazy situation. Would you do the right thing if no one was watching you? From thinking about surviving the next prison beating to finding out what they want for their future, they grow through every exciting page.
Prolific author Gordon Korman uses his usual humor in THE JUVIE THREE, but adds a suspenseful edge that will keep readers rooting for the boys and their overwhelming odds right through to the end.
--- Reviewed by Amy Alessio