Monster – Walter Dean Myers

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Harper Collins Australia

December 2021

  • ISBN: 9780064407311
  • ISBN 10: 0064407314
  • Imprint: HarperCollins US
  • List Price: 19.99 AUD

I will be perfectly honest. I had not heard of Walter Dean Myers before reading this book but since looking up his bio, see that he was, and is a highly regarded writer of, particularly, young adult fiction in the USA. Sometimes controversial [his1988 novel Fallen Angels is one of the books most frequently challenged in the U.S. because of its adult language and its realistic depiction of the Vietnam War. Wikipedia, February 2022], this particular title is one which has garnered awards and accolades, and has now been adapted by Netflix as major motion picture, ‘All Rise’.

Written in the style of a screen play/script, this narrative follows the trial of Steve Harmon, a teen in juvenile detention and accused of being an accessory to robbery and murder in his neighbourhood. Steve’s interest in film scripts stems from a strong connection with his teacher, and this method of his recording the events in which he finds himself, along with some journal entries, provides a method of presenting himself as somehow detached from the single decision and subsequent events that have created his circumstance.

Walter Dean Myers said: “I would like young people to consider what happened to Steve Harmon, as well as why. There were decisions that Steve made and some he clearly should have made, but didn’t. As the author, I’ll be satisfied if the reader forms his or her own opinion about these decisions and the consequences.”

There is no doubt this is confronting at times, and equally, no doubt, that if you shared this with a class, there would be raging debates on many points. For this reason alone, I am thinking I might share it with my new Year 9 (challenging!) English classes that are part of my new brief. I know I have some reluctant readers, and this is so provocative, that it might just swing some. We have also just acquired the graphic novel edition which would provide a two-pronged assault! *wink*

I will be looking forward to the movie adaptation with great interest, and certainly can highly recommend this for your readers from around 14 upwards. It’s gritty realism but extremely pertinent at this point in history.

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