Myers, Walter Dean. Monster. New York: Harper Tempest, 1999.
This is the story of Steve Harmon. He is on trial for being an accessory to murder. He was at the wrong place at the wrong time and now faces a possible life imprisonment for knowing the guys that did commit the murder.
I enjoyed the way the story was told. Steve Harmon is a high school student taking a film class. He is out scouting locations for his project when his life changes forever. He is suddenly thrust into jail and awaiting trial. Steve chooses to tell his story as a filmmaker. The reader sees the story as if it were playing out on the big screen. I thought this was clever of Myers. Although much of the story takes place in jail, the reader is really in Steve's thoughts there. We hear horrific events happening, but when Steve blocks it out, we are also blocked out of what's happening. It seems as the screen goes black.
I wondered about the topic of the story when I read the cover. "Steve Harmon's black. He's in jail, maybe forever. He's on trial for murder and he's sixteen years old." I thought this book would more gritty and graphic. I'm glad it wasn't. I empathized with Steve. I felt his frustration and his uncertainty. This is a book that doesn't need to use language as a vehicle to create character. The characters are created organically.
I also liked the way Myers used font in this book to show script writing and journal writing. The reader sees Steve's thoughts. There are a few pictures of a young, black man in the book. They enhance the story and do not distract from the situation.
I'm glad to put this book on my shelf. I think students can relate to Steve even if they've never had to walk in his footsteps.