Review For Zero Tolerance By Claudia Mills

Title: Zero Tolerance
Author: Claudia Mills
Publisher:Macmillan- Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) 
Pub Date: June 18,2013
Number of Pages: 240 

Seventh-grader Sierra Shepard has always been the perfect student, so when she sees that she accidentally brought her mother's lunch bag to school, including a paring 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 ironclad 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 with Zero Tolerance.

First Thoughts
I love the whole premise behind this book! Plus I’m a new lover of all thing Middle Grade so Zero Tolerance was at the top of my list of Must Reads!

My Thoughts
I really enjoyed this book! I loved that Zero Tolerance explored the blurred lines of what it right, what is wrong, and what is fair. I love that this shows that there is no black and white, there is a gray area. 

Sierra Shepard is your average goody-goody seventh grader. She makes straight A’s, she has great friends and parents, and she follows the rules. The Rules in her school is a Zero Tolerance policy, for both weapons and drugs. That means expulsion if you are caught with either, no exceptions!! So when Sierra opens her lunch and sees that she has her mother’s instead, along with a small knife to cut her apple, she follows the rules and turns it in. But rules are rules and there are no exceptions, even if it was an honest mistaken and she turned it in. Now she is stuck in class suspension until this matter can be resolved. She’s with the resident school baddies and she learns that everything isn’t what it seems, rules sometimes don’t work in your favor, and that life sometimes isn’t fair.

Sierra- the “Anal” goody-goody who has never been in trouble in her life, she was a great character because you see her grow from beginning to end. She learns a lot of hard lessons throughout the book, and had to grow up fast. At the beginning she was very naïve but towards the end she learned a lot of valuable lessons.

Luke – resident bad boy! He basically does what he wants, when he wants, because he can. He has learned a lot of lessons about the world around him at such an early age so he helps show Sierra that sometimes life isn’t fair. He basically is living up to the “self-fulfilling prophecy”. He’s doing what everyone thinks he should do because they already have made up their mind about him! He’s not really bad just misunderstood!

What I loved most about this book was the inter-struggle that the characters went through! They had to deal with the question of what is right, what is wrong, and what’s fair! I feel that at the end every character learned that mistakes are going to happen, and you are going to do something you’re not proud of, and things you regret; but you learn that all actions have consequences and that the world is made up of grey, and you can correct some of your mistakes.

Overall, Zero Tolerance was a great book. The writing was good, I think Mills portrayed the middle school voice well and the message was clear and very informative. I wasn’t a huge fan of the ending! It wasn’t bad I just had a different idea in my head that I sort of ran with, but I was also not disappointed with the outcome! I would recommend Zero Tolerance to all who enjoy MG books and to kids who are around fourth grade and up!


  1. I was ok with the ending of Zero Tolerance, what I would have liked to see is more about Luke's school problems see some solutions for kids like him that don't really enjoy school.
    I liked that this story focused on the kids, the educators and the adults. For me it is written in a way that they everyone can enjoy and the message that Claudia is trying to get across wont get lost because of the readers age.
    Thank you for your review Crystal :D

  2. Thanks for the super-thoughtful review, Crystal. As I was writing the book I wasn't sure myself how I wanted it to end. I don't want to do a plot-spoiler by sharing other endings I considered, but I sure did wrestle with the options here, given the intractable situation into which I placed Sierra and her family. I think it's mega-cool that you're doing this blog on top of being a student and all that entails. I and my fellow authors are sooooo grateful!


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