Heart or Mind

From the Series Unbarred

  • Interest Level: Grade 6 - Grade 12
  • Reading Level: Grade 4

Do the crime, do the time behind bars. But once you’ve been in, it can be tough to stay out.

Tension between African Americans and Somalis at Rodney’s high school erupts into a food fight that turns into a riot. In the midst of the violence, Rodney helps a Somali classmate to safety. Soon Rodney and Jawahir fall for each other. Against the pleas of their families and friends, they can’t help but follow their hearts.

As groups on both sides of the fight harbor lingering resentment, Rodney and Jawahir are caught in the middle. Rodney is determined to avoid trouble, having served a previous stint at the County Home School. But in a world where hate seems to rule, can Rodney and Jawahir keep their flame of love alive? Or will their relationship ignite a fire that destroys all in its path?

This modern twist on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet explores the themes of love vs. loyalty and societal clashes.

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Interest Level Grade 6 - Grade 12
Reading Level Grade 4
Genre High/Low, Young Adult
Copyright 2016
Publisher Lerner Publishing Group
Imprint Darby Creek ™
Language English
Number of Pages 120
Publication Date 2016-01-01
Reading Counts! Level 4.5
Text Type Fiction
BISACS YAF052000, YAF046120, YAF058250
Dewey [Fic]
Dimensions 5.25 x 7.5
Lexile 740
ATOS Reading Level 4.7
Accelerated Reader® Quiz 180624
Accelerated Reader® Points 2.0
Features Afterword, Author/Illustrator biography, and Reviewed

Author: Patrick Jones

Patrick Jones lives in Minneapolis and is the author of many novels including the Support and Defend series. A former librarian, Jones received lifetime achievement awards from the American Library Association and the Catholic Library Association.



“Jones pens a series of modern-day, gritty Shakespearean plays. . . . The diversity of characters, the situations of high drama, and the shortness of the books makes this series ideal for young adult collections.”—VOYA


“The present-tense, plot-driven narrative is compelling. . . . While it is written with the high/low reader in mind, this will likely have appeal for readers at any reading level.”—Booklist Online

Publishers Weekly

“Jones effectively characterizes real-life tensions to ratchet up the drama and danger as battle lines between ethnic and religious groups are drawn, and hate and violence seethe.”—Publishers Weekly