Last Updated on June 7, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 157
Without using an over-abundance of slang [in Does This School Have Capital Punishment?, Nat Hentoff] creates believable teenage dialogue. Sam is both funny and earnest in his ironic observations; conversation reveals the character of the adults, too. The contemptuous school director and Jeremiah's callous father are antagonists, and—realistically—neither of them is completely vanquished at the conclusion. The relationships between the fathers and the sons are central to the plot, yet none are explored to a satisfying depth. Most of the personalities are vivid and distinctive, but they need more room in which to interact. Jazz is described so lyrically the reader regrets that Major Kelley is merely a fictitious character. Contemporary and entertaining, the novel offers humor and a bridge over the generation gap. (p. 433)
Holly Willett, in her review of "Does This School Have Capital Punishment?" in The Horn Book Magazine (copyright © 1981 by The Horn Book, Inc., Boston), Vol. LVII, No. 4, August, 1981, pp. 432-33.