The First Stone
Susan Thomas is a middle-school guidance counselor, teacher, and social
worker in Milton, Ontario.
S.E. Hinton’s novel, The Outsiders, enjoys popularity among early
adolescent readers who delight in the delinquent behaviours of the bad
boys and cheer when the protagonist reaches deep inside to discover
inner strength and moral fibre. The First Stone echoes this theme but in
a contemporary setting. Reef, a victim of poverty, family violence, and
an indifferent child welfare system, expresses his anger by throwing a
stone from a freeway overpass. The result is serious injury to his
unknown victim, 17-year-old Leeza. Reef’s crime leads him to a stay at
a unique group home for boys and time served as a volunteer at a rehab
facility. Coincidentally, Reef’s placement puts him face-to-face and
heart-to-heart with Leeza as she struggles to overcome her injuries.
Don Aker wrote this adolescent novel based on his experiences as a
teacher and a parent. He walks a delicate balance between a true-to-life
portrayal and soap opera melodrama. An idealist, he portrays a juvenile
justice system that seems to work more effectively than one might
expect. At the same time, he offers unusual insight into the torments
and struggles of today’s teenagers.
Written at a Grade 9 reading level, The First Stone could be easily
digested by teenagers of either gender. It also could be used
effectively for literature discussions or by intermediate English
teachers for self-directed reading. Recommended.