Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Lockdown by Walter Dean Myers YPFIC MYERS

Maurice "Reese" Anderson is locked up and feeling beat down. Reese is serving his 22nd month of a 38 month sentence in juvie for stealing prescription drug pads. He starts working at Evergreen, a senior assisted living facility (old folks home), as part of an early release program. There he meets and is continually belittled by Mr. Hooft, a racist Japanese Internment camp survivor. Soon he finds that his past crime may have him doing even more time as the cops tell him he’s being fingered for another crime (one he didn’t do this time!). If that weren’t enough he has a drug addicted mom, a brother going down the same path as him, a little sister he wants to protect, an inmate named King Kong that wants to bust him up, and a sadistic guard named Pugh looking for any excuse to bust his head. And if Reese can keep all this from breaking him he still doesn’t see any hope waiting for him on the outside, but when he begins to get to know Mr. Hooft he learns that tragedy doesn’t always define us and how to learn to “make up life as you go.”

Walter Dean Myers is one of the best Young adult authors that write about crime and its consequences. All the characters in his books always have real depth and never seem like some TV bad guy. The supporting characters all seem pulled from real life and add a lot to the story. Mr. Hooft especially is picture perfect as a scared old man that knows a lot more about the real world than Reese expects. Reese is smart but is constantly surrounded by violence and Myers recognizes that there aren’t easy choices or easy answers for kids or adults surrounded by poverty. It was also nice that Myers doesn’t have Reese become an entirely new person by the end of the book; the changes Reese makes happen over time and are realistic.

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