The Battle of Jerico by Sharon Draper
About the Book
Jericho Prescott and his cousin, Joshua, can't believe their good luck. They have been asked to pledge the most exclusive club at their school--The Warriors of Distinction. The Warriors, known for their goodwill toy drive every holiday season, and their noble high ideals, seem just too good to be true. Perhaps they are. As the initiation process progresses, Jericho finds himself caught in a spiraling situation from which he cannot escape. "All of us or none of us" is just one of the vows the pledges must swear to. So, if Jericho should fail in his attempts to pledge the club, the other fourteen pledges will not be accepted either. In addition, the pledges must swear absolute obedience, loyalty, and secrecy. They are asked to do things that make Jericho increasingly uncomfortable, but he is unable to take a stand. And what about Dana, the bold young lady who defies the "boys only" rule of the club? As Jericho's internal battle rages within him, his cousin Joshua breezes through the pledge process, never thinking of the consequences, even when the fine line between fun and games, and life and death is crossed. This haunting novel of peer pressure and popularity spirals to a devastating conclusion. (from Simon & Schuster)
Hazing is a major theme of this novel. For eons, hazing has been seen as a rite of passage in both high schools and more likely, colleges--notably fraternities and sororities. Criminally-minded gangs also engage in hazing rituals. From harmless pranks, to deeds with extreme consequences, hazing is a frightful and catastrophic prospect for those who get involved. Forty-four states have passed anti-hazing laws to combat its prevalance. Hazing continues today, driven more underground than ever before.