Friday, October 31, 2008

Shooter / by Walter Dean Myers

When an outbreak of gun violence at a public high school is responsible for the death of one teen (perpetrator Leonard) and injury to several others, federal authorities immediately launch an on-scene investigation. Privately conducted and strictly confidential, the inquiries focus on the deceased shooter's two closest friends--Cameron and Michelle--for background info into the "incident's" culmination. Slowly, as interviews and evidence shed light on past events, it's revealed how this not un-routinely disturbed teen was prompted to act out as he did.

Cameron, an upper-middle class African-American teen, offers the best insight into Leonard's increasingly erratic behavior. Likely initiated years earlier by his parents divorce, there was still more to Leonard than suppressed animosity as multiple catalysts likely contributed to the carnage. Reclusive habits, his father's alcoholism, and an intense interest in firearms had begun to inhibit Leonard's relationship with then girlfriend Michelle; or, as she put it, he'd become "impossible" amidst a bitterness only spurned on by the high school's oppressive social heirarchy. The concluded analysis paints a disturbing portrait of a increasingly self-isolated individual, seemingly irredeemable amid personal demons and the antagonism of an outside world.

Written in a memorandum-style etiquette with very official looking transcript annotation, Shooter is another finely crafted work by noted YA author Walter Dean Myers, long one of the genre's most dynamic influences. If for no other reason, readers will find the book worthwhile for Myers' incisive observations into Leonard's psyche; acutely reconstructed through evidence given by Cameron and Michelle and personally rendered in Leonard's own journal entries.

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