Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Monster by Walter Dean Myers

Steve Harmon is a teen who has found himself to be in very deep trouble. He is in jail for his involvement in the burglary and murder of a local store keeper. The prosecution is trying to make him out to be a monster, so that even though he did not pull the trigger, the jury will hold him responsible. In order to deal with facing the trial and jail every day, Steve writes a screenplay of the events. The screenplay covers the events of the day, while journal-like entries cover Steve's nighttime fears. It is a compelling structure, giving the reader a real understanding of what Steve is going through. It helps us to answer the question, is Steve a monster? What was his involvement in that hold up? How can we know the truth?
Myers does an excellent job of creating suspense around the trial and its outcome. While the lawyers are causing the jury to question the truth, the reader also wonders what the truth really is. It seems that even Steve isn't really sure. The moral ambiguity is just as fascinating as the courtroom drama. At the end of the book, we are still left with the question, what does Steve's lawyer sees when she looks at him? What about his father, his mother? It is up to the reader to decide what Steve's true involvement in the crime was.

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