As young adult novels go, this is an interesting one by Todd Strasser. It is about a teenager named Garett who is sent against his will to boot camp in New York state.
The novel begins as Garett is taken against his will and sent to Lake Harmony (a boot camp in New York). We learn soon that it is his parents who sent him there mostly because Garrett was becoming sexually intimate with one of his teachers at school, and this was the only way to stop him. Garrett was also doing some other questionable things such as smoking pot and staying up past curfew.
Garrett shows his smarts and ingenuity during his stay at Lake Harmony, this home for troubled teenagers. The staff there is constantly trying to get Garrett to admit his infractions in life and submit to conformity. In order to do this, the staff resorts to both physical abuse and emotional abuse (which parents have already agreed to). Even though Garrett is unable to wheedle his way out through his words, he creates a grand plan of escape.
Garrett and two other troubled teens named Pauly and Sarah set a chemical fire and escape to the Canadian border. It is there that the staff of Lake Harmony catch up with the three teens, but the staff's boat begins to sink, posing a real danger. Garrett chooses to rescue the staff instead of letting them drown (as he also allows Pauly and Sarah to escape to freedom in Canada).
As a result of Garrett's rescue, the staff of Lake Harmony simply capture the "escaped convict," take him back to New York, where he is beaten mercilessly, both by the staff and by the other troubled teens who blame Garrett for their new punishments.
In a disturbing conclusion, Garrett is changed by the abuse at Lake Harmony. He conforms. He feels so sad at the beatings of others. He now believes he deserves it all. Suffering from dramatic Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Garrett has a mental breakdown.