by Walter Dean Myers, illus. by Christopher Myers
Sixteen-year-old Steve Harmon, who wants to be a filmmaker, finds his life turned upside-down when he is accused of acting as a lookout for the robbery of a Harlem drugstore where the owner winds up dead. He is on trial for felony murder which, as his defense attorney puts it, is “as serious as it gets.” Steve feels as if he’s in a movie, so he decides to describe this experience in the form of a script, and to call it the same thing the prosecutor calls Steve: “Monster.” This approach, with the addition of journal entries describing each day’s activities, keeps the pages swiftly turning. In the evenings, back in his cell with the disturbing sounds of his prison mates all around him, Steve reflects on all of the seemingly small choices that have led him to this point. Myers, who has done volunteer work in prisons, refrains from judgment, allowing plenty of room for teens to decide for themselves what part Steve played in his own fate.