Imagine it is 1885. Now imagine you have just been sentenced to five years in the Idaho Penitentiary for murder. And now, imagine you are only ten years old! This is the situation Jake Evans finds himself in. He is officially prisoner #88 of the Idaho Territorial Penitentiary.
This is the beginning of a thoroughly entertaining story – “Prisoner 88″ by Leah Pileggi. Inspired by an actual ten year old prisoner in the Idaho Territorial Prison, “Prisoner 88″ is the amazing story of Jake Evans; a boy who finds companionship and a home inside prison walls. Abandoned by his father, Jake has neither family nor visitors. He is on his own. Jake, who went hungry while with his father, is thrilled and thankful to receive hot meals every day. He’s not too thrilled, however, when he learns he has to learn to read. School work was definitely something he was not used to. Jake especially likes working for Mr. Criswell who raises hogs. Jake is escorted to and from Mr. Criswell’s farm by a guard named Henry.
Jake learns to handle prison life and establishes relationships with many of the inmates. An attempted prison escape by other inmates leaves Jake shaken and heartbroken. Prison really isn’t a good place for a young boy. Jake’s humor and courageous spirit pull him through.
The back portion of the book provides a real picture of the cells at the old Idaho Penitentiary, which is now a musuem. Imagine no air conditioning, no refrigerators, no electricity, no heat! Prisoners actually did do work on nearby farms and orchards; they did laundry and tended animals. And, as history recorded, there actually was a prison cat! Enjoy this fast-paced book. Happy reading!