All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook

It's 6:23 a.m. I scoot forward and put my lips close to the microphone of the prison PA system. I always begin quietly...



"Good morning." I say in my slow, low voice. "This is Perry at sunrise."

-Perry T. Cook, from All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook by Leslie Connor

Perry T. Cook has spent his entire life at Blue River Co-ed Correctional Facility. His mom, however, is not the warden... she is an inmate. Quietly arranged by the Warden, it is an agreement that works for all involved until Perry is discovered by the district attorney Thomas VanLeer. 

VanLeer takes quickly takes charge, removes Perry from Blue River, and places him into his own home (a much more suitable place for a child). Forced to leave the only home he has ever known and faced with the knowledge that the rule bending that allowed Perry to live with his mom at Blue Ridge could keep her in prison even longer, Perry determines to come up with a plan to prevent this from happening. To do so, he must begin to unravel the mystery of what exactly sent her to prison in the first place. 

While the idea for this book may seem a little far-fetched, Leslie Connor makes it feel realistic. (Several years ago I read another of Connor's books, Crunch, out loud to my kids. It does the same thing, taking an idea that feels a little far-fetched and making it appear possible. The premise of Crunch was that a gasoline shortage strands the parents of a family hundreds of miles away forcing their kids to operate the small family bicycle shop without them for a period of time. There is also a mystery to solve. It was a fun read.)

But, back to the book at hand... Perry’s innocence and love for his mom makes you fall in love with his character. He is someone you want to root for. The stories we discover of how different inmates landed in prison and how they struggle to stay connected to their families on the outside will awaken compassion for those who are easy to write off and forget about.

VanLeer is most definitely the villain, but while we root against him, we see that he is trying to do what he thinks is the right thing, he’s just not listening to better understand what the right thing for Perry is.  There is bit of mystery threaded into the story as Perry seeks to understand exactly how is mom ended up at Blue River in the first place. This helps build interest and suspense and keeps the reader turning the pages. And finally, (Spoiler Alert!) the ending is fully satisfactory with all of the happiness you would hope for.

All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook, is a book that illustrates how bad choices can change our lives in big ways and how forgiveness can do the same. I loved the story, the characters, and the ultimate messages that family is important, love makes a difference and forgiveness heals. A well told story that pulls at your emotions and keeps you turning the pages, this is a book you want to add to your kids’ TBR list and your own as well.