The Quality of Mercy
There's a new student at Tubman High School and he's causing a stir. Oliver Randall joins the Urban Underground series. Along with Randall come Alonee questioning her love for Jaris, Mr. Buckingham enduring attacks, students wondering about Oliver's background--all approaching thematic questions about justice and mercy.

The developing relationship between Alonee and Oliver encompasses the entire story and serves as a backdrop for heavier issues. Mr. Buckingham, the environmental science teacher, comes under attack by an unknown assailant. Mr. Buckingham sends a message about environmental awareness and active citizenship, although his words are not always well received. His demeanor and strict teaching method are set against a beloved teacher as an obvious dichotomy familiarly found in schools.

Eric Charney, who is struggling in Mr. Buckingham's class, seems a likely suspect for the attacks. Oliver isn't so sure; he begins tutoring Eric to help him pass science class. Alonee thinks otherwise: Eric comes from a home in which "whupping" is commonplace. He lives in a run-down part of the city and has already engaged in criminal activity. Oliver and Alonee, as well as the other students, are forced to look at how their pasts and upbringings affect their current choices and behavior. The lesson in this book is that looks can be deceiving, and that an ounce of mercy can change a life.