Adolescent Lit. Review: Monster by Walter Dean Myers

Walter Dean Myers has a special gift for writing novels that many of today's teenage readers are interested in and can relate to.  Myers won the Margaret A. Edwards Award in 1994, where four of his books, Hoops, Motown and Didi, Fallen Angels, and Scorpions, were recognized for "authentically portraying African-American youth without being limited to any particular ethnic group" (American Library Association). In 2000, Monster won the Michael L. Printz award for excellence in young adult literature. Walter Dean Myers is the current National Ambassador for Young People's Literature. 

Synopsis: Steve Harmon, a sixteen-year-old black male, has been arrested and charged with felony murder.  As the lookout in a robbery that left a store owner dead, Steve struggles throughout the novel with whether he is truly guilty of murder.  If convicted, Steve could face a sentence of 25 year to life in jail.   Having taken a film-making class in school, Steve tells the story of his ordeal by alternating between screenplay and journal formats.  The screenplay format allows readers to see the intensity within courtroom while the journal entries show the inner feelings of Steve as he is unsure of what his conviction will be. Black and white images are also expertly woven in to accompany the text. In this novel, Myers tells a realistic story of a boy who experiences jail and struggles with guilt, but wants more than anything to be pronounced innocent.    

Recommended for Grades 9-12.  
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