Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Zero Tolerance by Claudia Mills Blog Tour Review

I am thrilled to be part of this blog tour for Claudia Mills' Zero Tolerance. Please see below for other tour stops. 

Zero Tolerance
by Claudia Mills
Published in 2013 by Farrar Stratus Giroux Books for Young Readers.

Disclosure: I was provided a copy of the ARC in exchange for my honest thoughts. 

I rated this book 4 out of 5 stars. 

Summary from Goodreads
Seventh grader Sierra Shepard has always been the perfect student, so when she sees that she has accidentally brought her mother's lunch bag to school, including a pairing knife, she immediately turns in the knife at the school office. Much to her surprise, her beloved principal places her in in-school suspension and sets a hearing for her expulsion, citing the school's iron-clad no weapons policy. While there Sierra spends time with Luke, a boy who's known as a troublemaker, and discovers that he's not the person she assumed he would be-and that the lines between good and bad aren't as clear as she once thought. Claudia Mills brings another compelling school story to life. 

My Thoughts
I really enjoyed reading Zero Tolerance and could hardly wait to find out Sierra's fate.  Like any good book, it made me feel many different emotions. When the administration began to treat, the previously adored, Sierra with such distain and negativity for an innocent mistake I was frustrated and downright angry.  I could not imagine that a well-meaning honor student could be sacrificed in the name of "zero tolerance".  

Having had no personal experience, this book made me think about what a zero tolerance policy would be like in a middle school.  I know administrators have to keep schools safe, but would an honor student with no previous infractions really be expelled for grabbing the wrong lunch and immediately turning in the knife?  I would hope not. I was just so flabbergasted that expulsion was even discussed in this case where she was turning the knife in to trusted adults.  

Something positive came out of Sierra's in-school suspensions. After spending so much time with them, she realized that she had misjudged the "troublemakers" who were there with her.  She developed a real friendship with Luke who proves to be a loyal and selfless friend.  He even tries to take the blame after she does something very uncharacteristically reckless-something she could get in even bigger trouble for if anyone found out. 

Claudia Mills did an excellent job keeping just the right amount of suspense and tension in this book.  It grabs you right from the beginning and you really feel like you are right there with Sierra. You can feel her frustrations, fears, anxieties and hopes.  I think many upper elementary and middle schoolers will really enjoy reading Zero Tolerance.  

Claudia Mills is the author of many chapter and middle-grade books, including 7 x 9=Trouble!; How Oliver Olson Changed the World; and, most recently, Kelsey Green, Reading Queen. She also teaches philosophy at the University of Colorado at Boulder. She lives in Boulder, Colorado. To learn more, visit her website:

Please visit other blogs along the tour to hear more about Zero Tolerance. 

Wed, Sept 4         Read Now, Sleep Later 
Thurs, Sept 5       proseandkahn
Fri, Sept 6            The Book  Monsters
Mon, Sept 9         Once Upon a Story
Tues, Sept 10        Pass the Chiclets
Wed, Sept 11         The Late Bloomer's Book Blog
Thurs, Sept 12       The Mother Daughter Book Club
Fri, Sept 13            The Children's Book Review
Sun, Sept 15          Nerdy Book Club
Mon, Sept 16         Geo Librarian
Tues, Sept 17         A Life Bound by Books


  1. Thanks so much for hosting me today, as well as for all you do with your blog to promote and celebrate books and reading. Thanks, too, for the generous review. :) I wish I could say that I invented Sierra's predicament wholesale out of imagination, but it's based on an actual expulsion of an honor student for a similar innocent mistake that took place in a local school. Since I've written the book too many teachers have shared their own horror stories with me of the abuse of zero tolerance policies: e.g., a fourth grader suspended because she came to school directly from a sleepover at a friend's house and had one allergy pill in her backpack (violating a zero policy regarding drugs)! But I do think commonsense is coming to prevail. And I did try to help my character learn and grow from her experience, one of the benefits to fiction over real life. :)

  2. I really enjoyed your book. So crazy that such policies can get so out of hand. I really felt for Sierra, but loved watching her grow and change. I am glad to be part of your tour.