Walter Dean Myers Monster. New York: Harper Collins Publishers. 1999.
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Audience: I do not specifically think this book is for high school audience. I would say maybe senior year of high school but mostly college. So, between 18-23 years of age.
Summary: Steve Harmon is on trial for murder at the age of 16. The defense attorney, Kathy O’Brian helps him throughout the case. Sandra Petrocelli who is the prosecutor makes a strong argument against his behalf. The case goes to as there was a robbery taking place at Alguinaldo Nesbitt’s drugstore. The criminals came in with the intent to take money out of the cash register and stole some cartons of cigarettes along the way. Although, what they did not intend was the killing of Mr. Nesbitt along with all of that. The robbery was the felony, and a person being murdered turned into a felony murder trial.
Read Aloud: Monster Read Aloud
Themes: The book shows a lot on the character of a person. For example, the prosecutor herself- Sandra Petrocelli- she labels Steve as a monster and she is a grown woman. From the beginning, she stuck that label to him; even when every person is innocent until proven guilty. And, Steve was never even proven guilty; there was no evidence actually connecting himself to the murders.
Another theme I grasped was peer pressure. Just how easily it is to become involved in something. Every person thinks ‘oh we’re young and nothing is going to happen’. But, in every state now a child can be charged as an adult. These young kids did not realize that. I think Osvaldo Cruz is a good recipient for giving into peer pressure. He said his job in the robber was to stand outside and trip anyone who tried to come after them as they robbed the store. The only reason he did it as well was in fear of Richard Evans, or known as Bobo. He also ended up slashing someone’s face to be a part of a gang. All of this is elements of peer pressure.
I think at there is also a lot of trust and love going on throughout this entire book. Steve’s mom believes him throughout the entire book. She visits him all the time, really shows a lot of compassion. Even after the trial, she is so relieved because she knows her son was proven not guilty. The father, on the other hand, their relationship changes. I think he can be put right up with Ms. Petrocelli in being a part of labeling. When he did visit Steve he talked about his disappointment and what he dreamt his son would do one day; now the dreams were “thrown away” kind of in his opinion.
Connections: I think the one connection I really made was with Steve and his mom and dad. If I told them that I was innocent. Hell, they would believe me. Both of them can tell when I am telling the truth; and, they would fight until the end for me. That was kind of the only connection I personally made. I’ve never really been charged with anything or been exposed to the atmosphere described in the book.
Reactions: Personally, I loved the book. I found it a little hard in the beginning to read. I just am not a big fan of plays. And, how it was set up was a little difficult in the beginning. But, I got use to it. The characters got confusing here and there. So, I just made my bookmark a character list so I could refer back to it easily. I really enjoyed the whole book though because I love crime and law and murder stories. Hopefully that does not sound weird. But, I am going into law enforcement and, so this book was perfect. In my criminal law class, we cover case studies; so, I could really apply what I learnt in class to this. And, I think Walter Dean Myers did a very good job with every character and the whole court preceding. I hated Sandra Petrocelli though, I think she could have been a little better depicted. But, maybe it was Walter Dean Myers intent to make her seem like a.. witch, in better terms.
Reception: The first website is a few reviews off of google books. Monster Review 1
Here is a review composed by four folks. Monster Review 2