Walter Dean Myers. Monster. New York, N.Y. HarperCollins Publishers. ©1999
Written by: Walter Myers
Reviewed by: Kaden Bruner
Recommended audience: Young Adult- Adult
The story is written from the main character’s perspective, Steve Harmon. The story is actually laid out like a movie plot and written in the notebook he has been given to write notes for the trial. Steve is a sixteen year old currently on trial with other characters for the murder of the owner of a liquor store. The film is about Steve’s experience of being in jail, the trial taking place, and how his life was turned upside down by a few events. The title of the book, Monster, comes from the name the prosecutor calls Steve during the trial.
Steve’s attorney, Kathy O’Brien, is small, red-haired, freckled, and all business. The prosecution is accusing Steve of being a vital player in the robbery and murder of the store owner. Witnesses in the trial testify that Steve’s part in the crime was to go into the store prior to the robbery to check out the store and make sure the “coast was clear.” O’Brien’s goal in the trial is to present Steve in a completely different light than the other defendant and make their relationship sound like acquaintances and nothing more. The conspirators and most witnesses, except Steve, have been convicted of crimes in the past: documented liars and thieves, or have served time in prison. Steve is currently in high-school, never been convicted of a crime, and very involved in producing a film for one of his classes. Even though Steve didn’t rob the store or pull trigger on the gun that killed the store owner, the Prosecutor is going for felony murder and pushing for the death penalty.
During the trial, Steve’s parents are present. His mother is struggling and obviously upset and his father wants to believe his son is innocent, but just doesn’t know. When it’s time for Ms. O’Brien to present her case, she calls Steve as a witness. After being questioned by his attorney, the Prosecutor gets her shot at Steve. Both sides make their closing arguments and the decision is turned over to the jury. The Jury Foreman read the verdicts, the guards put handcuffs on James King since he is found guilty. The Jury Foreman continues to read. Steve’s mother is clasping her hands, her face filled with tension as her son’s verdict is read.
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