Draper, S.M. (2003). The Battle of Jericho. New York: Simon Pulse.
Jericho is chosen, along with fourteen other boys, to pledge for the Warriors of Distinction, a school service organization that does a lot more than distribute toys to children. An accomplished musician, Jericho will have to choose between pledging and performing before a Julliard professor.
While told from Jericho’s point of view, readers also may relate to Kofi, a pledge with a heart murmur, Jericho’s humorous cousin Josh, or Dana the first girl to become a pledge for the Warriors of Distinction. The pledges must decide together whether they want to continue forward with the pledging process that is becoming more and more like hazing under the watch of the senior members, one of whom seems bent on torturing Dana.
It would be easy for young adult students to become immersed in this novel due to the emotional and difficult choices some of the students face. For those who hate to see characters faced with injustice, their reactions will be particularly strong.
Activities to do with the book:
This would be a good book to provoke moral and ethical discussions among students. It could also provoke conversations over peer pressure, hazing, disabilities and loss. This is also a good book to show as an example of contemporary realistic fiction.
If a student has read some of Draper’s other young adult novels, this is a natural recommendation to have them continue their reading.
Also, since most of Draper's novels are set in Ohio, they tend to have special meaning for those of us who have lived in the state.
“The pledge masters marched the fifteen pledges to the middle of the soggy yard. The ground was muddy and squished as they walked, and the frigid air whipped across the pledges’ wet T-shirts. Sharp needles of rain stung them as they stood there silently waiting for instructions.
“Kneel!” Rick Sharp shouted to Jericho.
Jericho wanted to disobey, but instead he knelt immediately. Cold mud soaked through his jeans in seconds” (p. 1).
“He thought of the prestige of having one of these black silk jackets, the admiring glances in the halls at school, but mostly he thought of Arielle. He tried not to think of the rain and the mud and the stink of Rick’s feet.
“Are you willing to do anything to be a Warrior of Distinction?” Rick demanded” (p. 3).
“Since everyone talked about the Warriors all the time, it was hard to tell what was real and what was made up. Not all the whispers about the warriors were good” (p. 15).