Monster (Coretta Scott King Honor Book)

by Walter Dean Myers

Other authorsChristopher Myers (Illustrator)
Hardcover, 1999





Harper Collins Publishers (1999), Edition: First Edition, 281 pages


While on trial as an accomplice to a murder, sixteen-year-old Steve Harmon records his experiences in prison and in the courtroom in the form of a film script as he tries to come to terms with the course his life has taken.


National Book Award (Finalist — 1999)
Boston Globe–Horn Book Award (Honor — Fiction — 1999)
Edgar Award (Nominee — Young Adult Novel — 2000)
Sequoyah Book Award (Nominee — Young Adult — 2002)


Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

281 p.; 8.25 inches

Media reviews

MSU AdolLit
This book was good in my opinion. There were a lot of comments on the way the book was written, but I personally enjoyed it. It was a unique format and well written. The fact that he spent lots of time in prison helps make his story seem more real.

User reviews

LibraryThing member BrOoKe03
Steve Harmon, a 16 year old boy, was wrongfully accused. He was in prison throughout his trial. The novel was written in first person and as a movie script. Steve loved film making, so to help him stay calm while being in jail he wrote everything that happened and that was said in the form of a
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movie. After the case was viewed completely, Steve was released.
I think this book would help children to look at the entire picture. Children are gullible and easy to persuade; this book will help them realize that there is more to life than what they can see. Also, because children are so easy to persuade, they are likely to follow the wrong crowds and get into situations that children should not be in.
I liked the book, but it was not one of my personal favorites. I knew that our legal system was not even close to perfect, but after reading this book, I realized just how terrible it truly is. I had a friend in high school who was good friends with a boy who was arrested and wrongfully accused; this book reminded me of how hard it was for her to see him in that position. After he was released at the end, Steve's father could not look at his son the same, but his mother still loved him and saw him as her baby boy. I have also been in a position where I have followed the wrong group of people and later I regretted it. Basically, this book related to my life greatly, so I did enjoy it.
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LibraryThing member Kate13
The book Monster is a compelling and suspenseful fictional novel by Walter Dean Myers about a young man, Steve Harmon, and his journey through his trial. Steve is on trial for being an accomplice in an attempted robbery that resulted in the murder of the store owner. The book is written in the form
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of a movie script, along with excerpts from a journal that Steve has been keeping while he was in jail and during the trial. Steve is a young, African-American who was grown up in what seems to be a rough neighborhood in Harlem. Myers also leads the reader to believe that Steve is from a lower class family.

One of the main issues that this novel deals with is that of stereotyping. The author wants us to see what everyone thinks of Steve and the other defendant, Mr. King. Throughout the book the reader realizes that most of the characters in the book think that he is guilty simply because he is a poor, black boy. The author also gives the reader an inside look into the mind of Steve Harmon, what he is thinking and how he feels. Since the book is written in script form, the reader also gets a glimpse at some of the thoughts of other characters throughout the book based on their staging and reactions. The trial goes on, the evidence is presented, prosecution and defense both state their cases, closing arguments are made, and then it is sent to the juror for them to decide the fate of Steve Harmon. The wrong verdict could ruin the lives of this boy and his family forever.

I, personally, hated this book. I am very strict about organization, and I could not tolerate the manner in which this book was written. Myers gave adequate details to set the book, as well as leaving the reader in suspense throughout almost the entire book. To me, the suspense was the only thing that made this book bearable to read. Depending on what type of school you're teaching at, the students may love it or hate it. I do think that the book showed a lot of stereotyping and critiquing of people based on color, age, criminal record, and past actions. Sadly, this book did not have much of an impact on me because I disliked it so much.

Monster was intriguing and I guess, to an extent, it was interesting. It just really wasn't my taste. I think that it was a good book for a high school student, but no one younger. It gives you insight into the mind of an alleged criminal, which is something that you don't get to see everyday. Overall, I didn't like it, but that's just my opinion. Read it for yourself and find out.
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LibraryThing member anniecate
I thoroughly enjoyed Walter Dean Myer's book "Monster". This work was a fictional novel toldI told through the eyes the main character, 16 year old Steve Harmon, who is African American. This story was written like a screen play and also has journal entries from Steve as well. The setting is in
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Harlem and mainly takes place on the streets of the city, in the jail where Harmon is held, or in the court room.

Harmon is awaiting trail for his connection in the robbery of a convenient store and murder of the owner. This book takes you on his journey to find out whether he is found guilty or not guilty. At the end, it caused me to be on my toes for the verdict. I had to force myself to not read ahead and as corny as it sounds, i had butterflies waiting to read the verdict. Your heart goes out to Steve because it is told in his perspective.

The teaching connections:
1. I definitely feel like this is a good book for students to read, but it would need to be strategically placed in the unit to make sure that it was within the appropriate time.
2. An activity that my students could do would be after reading this book we would create our own court room and based on the evidence given, we would determine whether Steve Harmon was innocent or not. This would allow the students to feel even more connected to the work and would give them a better understanding of the court system.

I found this book to be an easy read and also entertaining. I did not necessarily like the way that the book ended because I do not like having to second guess a work. The question of Steve's innocence is a theme that is represented through out the entire book. Every character questioned Steve's innocence the entire story, including himself. Also, stereotyping is another theme throughout the book. Some of the characters in this book experience racial stereotyping. I believe that Myers believes that this happens in the courtrooms today. Fir example, because of your race you may not actually go into a court room and be considered "innocent until proven guilty". Myers grew up in Harlem and most all of his works were about African American teenagers from Harlem. The book "Scorpion" by Myers also shows the struggle of a young teenager that is surrounded by crime and joins in because he thinks he has no other choice. I can neither disagree or agree with the opinions of Myers because I am not a minority and have not lived in a big city neighborhood surrounded with crime. I will say that this book has opened my eyes to some of the things that could be happening in our court system dealing with racial prejudice.

Overall i really enjoyed it. I would rank it about a 5 on the scale of books I enjoyed in high school. This book presented issues such as; racial stereotyping and innocence and this is a common theme throughout the author, Walter Dean Myers' works. The format of this book may bother some OCD people, so if you cannot stand to have a book that is written outside of "normal format", i would recommend you not read this work. I however am not bothered by unusual format and thought it was pretty good. Easy read.
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LibraryThing member annajamieson
Walter Dean Myers’ book, Monster, is a fictional work that is popular among young adult readers. It is a suspenseful story told from the perspective of a sixteen-year-old African American boy, Steve Harmon. The story takes place in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City, which is often
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associated with crime and violence.
The novel follows the arrest and trial of Steve who is taken into custody after being associated with a robbery and murder of Mr. Nesbitt in a convenience store in Harlem. Steve is arrested when accused of being a watch out in the crime. The story portrays the teenager's time spent in jail as well as his trial in the courtroom. With his lawyer, Ms. O'Brien, he tries to show the jury that he is innocent and not a monster as he had been labeled. The book is written as both a personal journal of Steve's jail time and as a film in which he wrote down his experiences. This allows the reader to better understand Steve's point-of-view as a prisoner and as a teenage boy claiming his innocence. The author does reveal the outcome at the end of the book but also leaves room for readers to decide if Steve was truly innocent or guilty.
I personally enjoyed this book very much because it was intriguing and an easy read. The suspense in the text made it interesting and hard to put down. I also enjoyed the way it is written as a film and journal because it helped me to visualize the story, better understand what was happening, and see into the thoughts of the main character. It is interesting to see inside the life of a prisoner as well because it is something I rarely think about and not something I have ever seen or experienced. The book discusses the issues of the court system and stereotyping. It is obvious that Myers is trying to show the injustice of our courts and how they are flawed because of people’s generalizations of others and the fact that while it is supposed to be that a person is “innocent until proven guilty,” it often seems to work in the opposite way. Stereotyping is another issue the book considers because Steve experiences this during his trial. His race and the fact that he looks very much like other criminals cause the jury to see him in the same light. This is even used against Steve in his trial when the opposing side uses guys of similar race and background as witnesses. The issues of stereotyping and discrimination remind me of Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor, which discusses the time of deliberate discrimination towards African Americans. Monster shows how this prejudice still exists long after the times of slavery. Although I have not personally experienced these issues, I agree with Myers in that they are real problems existing in our world. The book changed my opinion of the court systems and the justice that our country claims to work by but often does not.
This book could definitely be used in the classroom and the following are suggestions of ways that teachers could use the text:
• A teacher could come up with a hypothetical scenario of a court case that the class could act out with some being the jury, lawyers, judge, etc. Through this the teacher could show how the court system works and allow students to experience the court system and figure out how to overcome stereotyping of others.
• Students could be asked to investigate the theme of truth in the novel and have a class discussion on whether or not Steve was truly innocent or guilty despite the verdict of the trial.
I would recommend this book to any reader who enjoys a suspenseful plot. This book is very interesting and enticing. It keeps you reading in order to discover the final verdict of the trial. The theme of stereotyping and injustice of our courts provides an insightful text for readers of all ages. The book will keep you on your toes the entire time anticipating the outcome.
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LibraryThing member gcastoria36
Monster by Walter Dean Myers is a young adult fiction drama written in the format of a screenplay. It follows the life of a young, African American male that lives in Harlem.

This book follows the life of 17 year old Steve Harmon who is on trial for accessory to murder. Harmon is a typical teenager
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who aspires to be involved in film. He seems to find himself in the wrong place at the wrong time, forcing him into a very scary, very adult world. Is Steve really an innocent child, or is he truly a MONSTER?

I enjoyed the book Monster and my attention was grasped with how the story is formatted. I think Myers wrote the story well, and kept me captivated from beginning to end. I feel like this book discusses real problems that are present today, especially crime. Young adult crime is very relevant in today's society. More kids are coming from broken homes and struggling lives which usually turns them to gang membership. I feel like Myers paints this in a negative light, especially since he grew up in Harlem where gangs were everywhere. I agree that gangs and crime are a real problem today, and if we had more hope and help invested into the younger generation then we could try and fix the problem. This book also addresses the issue of race. Steve is a young black male, and easy target. It seems that almost everybody has no hope, or really believes he is innocent because of the color of his skin. Myers himself is African American, so I know he faced this issue growing up and today still. I feel like more light has been shed on the prejudice problem, and my eyes have been opened to it more.

*peer pressure and what it can lead to
*writing in a different style
*that anybody from any background can write

I really enjoyed Monster and would recommend this book to other young adult readers. I think it brings to light many issues that young readers would be faced with like race, peer pressure, crime, and being faced with adult decisions. I think this would be a good book to assign a class, especially in inner cities, because it's an easy read that deals with their real life issues.
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LibraryThing member Jacob_Kent
Monster, written by Walter Dean Myers is a suspenseful piece of fiction that is an immediate attention grabber. This narrative is set in Harlem, depicting a lower class of people who tend to be looked down on as criminals. The author of this book, Walter Dean Myers, spent fourteen years in Harlem
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while growing up, so he understands the struggles that the people living in that area go through. He writes the truth about this area, censoring none of the social and unjust facts.
This book follows the trial of teenager Steve Harmon as he is accused of helping murder a shop owner. Steve is a seemingly well-mannered young man who excels in school, especially in film class. His parents are loving, supportive, and most importantly, they are both a part of his daily life. He just so happens to be friends/acquaintances with a rougher crowd which ultimately leads to his arrest and accusations. Steve then begins to write down the entire court case, detail by detail, for a film project he has in mind. Steve writes from his own perspective, following the style of film script, which makes for a very interesting read. The narrator reveals his inward struggles,through flashbacks and family interactions, as they pertain to the happenings of the court trial.
I really did enjoy this book. It was a quick, yet interesting read that I feel would be appropriate for most middle school classrooms. This book is real; it contains so many themes and circumstances that many students are experiencing, whether it be first hand or through acquaintance. I feel that many students will be able to relate with the many character as he struggles with finding the truth within himself. Middle school aged kids are searching for an identity, no matter what background they come from. The dealings with crime in Monster may also relate to students in areas of heavy poverty and criminal activity. This book sends the message that hanging out with the wrong crowd can get one in trouble, guilty or not.
I believe that this text can relate to several other works concerned with discrimination. A teacher can easily compare this modern day text with the problems that African American children experienced during and right after slavery. One problem that I had with the book was that we never actually find out if Steve is innocent or guilty. There is evidence to point to both conclusions, so this could make for a good class discussion.
Overall, I feel that Monster would be a good read for a middle school age group. The novel promotes self-awareness, a focus on honesty, and the importance of family values. The film style is also a very interesting approach- one that many students would find quite interesting. If anything, students may learn new filmography terms that the narrator uses quite often.
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LibraryThing member brandyccross
Monster is an adolescent drama fiction novel written by Walter Dean Myers. The book is written between a mixture of screenplay and diary exerts from the main character of the novel. Monster is written in a way that makes it extremely readable for young adults. Instead of just reading word after
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word, there is a chance to be engaged with the characters as if you might be a part of the story they are living. Monster is the story of a teenage boy named Steve Harmon. Steven Harmon is growing up in the streets of Harlem, which quite obviously gets him into some trouble. Steve Harmon is on trial for the murder of a drugstore owner. The book takes you through his time spent in jail and his view on his own trial, as if you were filming it for a movie. The story shows you real events of stereotyping and what it is to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
I am on the fence with my opinion of this book. I was at first worried about the context of the book being too graphic or violent dealing with an issue like murder. After reading the book though, I didn't have any issue with the context, but just the story it's self. Though the book is generally easy to read and very engaging for young adults, the book left me just lost. I was still not positive on whether Steve Harmon was guilty or not, and I just hate not knowing what the real story is. The book does deal with important issues like stereotyping, and how often people are judged. Humanity has been raised to do an extreme amount of judging, which is an issue I firmly agree with. I think that Walter Dean Myers touched on a great subject of hate and stereotyping, and it is an issue that many tend to overlook. Steve Harmon was shown to the reader as a great kid, someone with morals, someone with a family, and someone with ambition, but to the other characters in the book he was looked at as a criminal.
Overall, the book is engaging for young adults. I am not sure what made me not like the book as much, but it might how I was left feeling. At the end of the book, I was still curious and I had made no real decision of whether or not Steve Harmon was guilty or not. I do think that Monster is capable of making students think about real issues that humanity constantly struggles with, and for that reason I do think I would read this book in a classroom of young adults. I believe it is a book for middle grade leveled children and I think they would all find the book easy to read and engaging. Monster is a mediocre book in my opinion, but it does show a story of gaining morals in your life.
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LibraryThing member hmr83
Walter Dean Myers' [Monster] is a compelling script-based novel on the trial of a young man, Steve Harmon. Steve is a 16 year-old kid from Harlem who happens to run with the wrong people at the wrong time. Steve writes a mix of journal entries and scripts as he encounters an emotionally draining
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situation of a felony murder charge, accused of being an accessory to a drug store hold up and murder. Throughout the script, Steve's defense attorney insists that in order to be found innocent by the jury, Steve must show his humanity; he must separate himself from the other criminals on trial.

Many students identify with the jury in [Monster], they see a black kid from a bad part of town and automatically assume that he is guilty of everything. One thing that Myers does in this novel is present the reader with a challenge: Is steve innocent? The ambiguity Steve Harmon's character gives throughout the novel suggests that Steve doesn't know if he is guilty or not. Steve's mother doesn't know, his lawyer doesn't know, and neither does the reader. Although the jury rules that Steve is not guilty, the reader's perception is the final decision. There are many great points on diversity and prejudice here, some examples of diversity include things from as simple as the setting (Harlem, a majority black community), to a more complex racial relationship that is between Steve Harmon and his defense attorney, which displays the differences in social status, cultural background, and racial influences. There is also a lesson to any aspiring reader in that their perceptions of the characters they read about define those characters- not just what the author says about them. Some striking examples of prejudice in Monster seem to follow a pattern; Steve is portrayed as a type of animal, "herded" through the courthouse (Myers 12). Even from the beginning, the reader knows that Steve is fighting an uphill battle, over and over again, Steve's defense attorney mentions that Steve has to work "to make [him] a human being in the eyes of the jury" (16). Even Mr. Sawicki implies that Steve is fighting a losing battle during one of Steve's flashbacks. Mr. Sawicki says, "If you make your film predictable, they'll make up their minds about it long before it's over." (19). When applied to the trail, Steve is predictable - in the eyes of the jury, in the eyes of his family, he is just a black felon that has to be proven innocent instead of proven guilty. Nothing should cause any person to have to fight the system the way Steve did, whether he was guilty or not, especially race.

This book requires students to think about several things, including: race, discrimination, honesty, truth, perception, and automaticity. We have formed rhetorical gaps that automatically say that black kids from the ghetto are bad kids with no morals. The reason we have this connotation is because of the way it has been portrayed to us (the reader). As a high school teacher studying this book, I would encourage my students to look to the 'why does it matter that we think all young adults from the ghetto are awful', not just, 'is Steve Harmon guilty or not guilty'? It's hard to separate the two, but in order to become critical readers that see the underlying causes, it is necessary. I believe it is also important to help students make connections between the situations presented in this book and opinions and information as seen by other authors. I think one way to efficiently make connections would be to consult books where the judicial system has determined court cases based on race. I even think short stories such as [Sonny's Blues] by James Baldwin reveal that there are prejudices inside racial boundaries. In the case of [Sonny's Blues] it would between between brothers and the way each has chosen to live his own life. It is important to reveal to students that prejudices happen among all races and even within them. Although [Monster] represents the prejudices that Africa Americans face, it is also important to reveal the prejudices and inequality among other ethnicities such as Asian, Indian, or Latino/Hispanic.
I think these are only some of the reasons that [Monster] is a great book, whether in or out of the classroom.
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LibraryThing member KatieSpears
MONSTER by Walter Dean Myers is a young adult work of fiction. The novel takes place in Harlem, New York sometime between the years 1999 and 2001. The settings include a jail, a courthouse, and flashbacks. The storyline written as a movie screenplay.

MONSTER is about a young man named Steve Harmon.
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Steve becomes involved with the wrong crowd and agrees to participate in a robbery. Steve's job is to make sure no one is in the store before the robbery is to take place. During the robbery, the store owner is shot and killed. Steve was not in or around the store during the actual robbery and does not learn of the murder until he sees it on the news. A few weeks go by, and Steve is arrested in his home after being identified as being involved in the robbery. MONSTER is about Steve surviving in prison and suffering through his trial as he tries to discover who he is and what truth is.

Personally, I enjoyed reading MONSTER and liked the storyline. I liked that the format of the book was unique in being written as a movie. I also like that the book was easy to read and understand. I gave the book only four stars because even though I enjoyed reading the book once I have no desire to read it again. After discovering whether Steve is found guilty or not, reading the book again would not have as much suspense or interest for me to enjoy it. I had never read a book like this before where the main character is part of a crime which results in a murder. Nor have I read a book told from the perspective of a person in jail. I appreciated that Steve's fear of being in jail felt real and that his experience in jail seemed authentic.

The book raises issues of concerning the justice system in America and being careful with whom one associates. The guards in the novel do not treat the prisoners very well, and they are not effective in patrolling violence in the prison. I think Myers was trying to make a point about the flaws with the inner workings of prisons. Also, Myers contained issues of choosing one's associates wisely. Steve chose to hang out with people who were criminals and became involved in plans to commit a crime. Because Steve chose to be associate with criminals, he is perceived as a criminal. I agree that there a definate flaws in America's justice system and that the security in jails is awful. I really agree that people need to be careful who their friends are. I think that students could benefit from Steve's experience with hanging out with the wrong crowd. Books with this similar theme are beneficial to kids. For example, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling teaches kids about choosing the good friends. Harry could have easily tossed Ron Weasley aside to join Draco Malfoy, but he knew Malfoy was trouble. Kids are easily influenced by their friends, so good friends are essential.

A larger issue this book addresses is the positive and huge impact teachers can have on students' lives. Steve was in jail and possibly going to be there for life, but he thought of the film teacher and was inspired to write everything down as a screenplay. He had an outlet for his feelings, and when his teacher testified for him, he knew that his teacher really cared. I thought that teachers had some impact on studnets' lives, but this book confirmed even more that thought. I got a sense of how everything, even little movie assignments like Steve had, can affect my students. I am an example for them.

Teaching Connection
-Concerned about maturity of content in MONSTER for certain grades (the mentioning of Steve being afraid of being raped)
-Discussion about choosing good friends
-Discussion about being aware of one's surroundings
-Project on how the verdict could have been different and why, if the verdict is the same then where is Steve now?

MONSTER is a suspenseful look into the mind of boy waiting for the verdict of his life. The novel easily captures the readers attention and holds it. MONSTER offers a look into the issues plaguing the justice system with the first hand account of its failings through Steve's narration. Also, the lesson of being careful who one is friends with is a big red flag to students to pay attention and apply the knowledge to their own lives. About a young man trying to survive prison and where he went wrong in his life, MONSTER is a good book that students will enjoy because of its realistic storyline and creative presentation.
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LibraryThing member baw210
Walter Dean Myers novel Monsters is a suspenseful novel. This book is about an adolescent that is brought to court for the murder of a local drugstore owner. The story is told from his point of view as a screenplay with inserts from his journal. The majority of the story takes place in the court
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room where Steve Harmon, the protagonist, is on trial. Another place the book often takes places at is the drugstore. This is where the muder takes place. Thos is a small drugstore owned by an older man that runs it, who is later murdered.The way the book is written really keeps the reader interested and makes the reader feel like he is part of the book.
I think there are many themes that play out in this story. I think one of the themes in this book is the way he is judged throughout the story. People in the court room judge Steve and already feel that he is guilty because of his race and where he is from. I think this book can relate to many students and help them chose who they want to hang out with and help them to make the right choice in their teenage years. I think I agree with the author's opinion in this book. I think that Steve is guilty and was a part of this murder. Even though the book never comes out and tells us if he was guilty or innocent, I think most will find him guilty.
I really enjoyed this book. I thought it worked well as being a screenplay and really got you interested in what was going on. When I read it, I felt like I was a part of the story and had an opinion about each part of the book. I think this is a good book for adolescents to read. It is a real life situation that anybody could be put in by making one bad decision. From the jail to the court room, I feel like this book really showed the fear of an adolescent being in that situation. I think this book really grasped my attention in making decisions event though I am not an adolescent, it really made me step back and think about decisions I could come across in my life. We have to make choices every day in this world and we have to know when we are making a good choice or a bad choice.
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LibraryThing member lrb209
Walter Dean Myers writes about a fictional Steve Harmon, a young black man, on trial for a robbery, turned murder, that he may or may not have been a part of. Told through Steve's point of view, the audience gets a sense of who this young man is through diary entries and ideas of how he wants to
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portray a movie about this ordeal. While on trial, he starts to question his character and who he really is. He also questions if he really did commit the crime he is accused of or if he was just at the wrong place at the wrong time. He admits to knowing the men involved in the crime and because of his Harlem residency, is already stereotyped by the jury around him. Monster deals with peer pressure and the difficulties that it can cause for those who give into others. It also touches on the subject of race and the stereotypes that go along with people who grow up in Harlem.

I loved reading this story. It allows the reader inside of the mind of this young man who is scared because his life of freedom is in the hands of the jury. I really enjoyed seeing how Myers transitioned from Steve's diary entries to his movie script and still made the reading easy. There was no confusion with switching back and forth. Myers did a great job of letting his audience know the whole story through court proceedings, but let the audience decide if they believe in Steve's innocence or not. I believe it is important for young adults to understand the severity of problems that deal with stereotyping and the problems that deal with associating with people who are a bad influence. Students need to understand that there are consequences for every action that one makes whether it turns out to be good or bad.

This text can help teachers focus on teaching students that one should not stereotype others because not everyone is the same and peer pressure can lead to horrible situations. Teachers can help their students understand that judging someone before knowing them is not a good choice to make because outside influences are not always right. Students also need to understand that peer pressure is not always a good thing. Peer pressure can make students make decisions they would not normally do by themselves and I think if the teacher teaches this book children can get an understanding at what peer pressure has the ability to do.

Teaching Connections
-Have the students act out scenes in the book that they liked.
-Discuss with the students the different choices that Steve could have made and how different the outcome could have been if he would have made other choices.

Through Steve's memories of his family life and love of making movies, the reader can connect with the young boy as he lives through the fears of jail and the possibility of life behind bars. He never imagines that his life would end up the way that it has and he understands the faults that got him to where he is now. Monster is a book that makes the reader think about their surroundings and what influences are around daily. Myers writes in a way that is positive for young adults and lets them know the possibilities that can happen if someone listens to others rather than themselves.
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LibraryThing member phoebenye
The novel Monster is written by Walter Dean Myers and is a nonfiction book written for young adults. The story is set in Harlem and is set from the perspective of a 16 year old African American male named Steve Harmon. He is being charged with assisting in a robbery that resulted in a death at a
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gas station. Monster is written as if it is a film script and takes place in jail and a court room. Two older men testify against Steve saying he assisted them in the crime. Steve is faced with a jury judging him due to his race and age. It is a battle of discrimination.
I think the book was very interesting and it kept my attention. It shed light on a subject that is not normally written about and had an interesting perspective of how a court case is run. However, the ending leaves the reader hanging and wanting more from the story. There is not that sense of closure that I as a reader rely on. Nonetheless, I do feel that the author makes some very important points that are great for young adults to read and think about. Monster makes the reader think about discrimination on a deeper level and how it is still such an issue in today’s society.
When I become a teacher I would definitely consider using Monster in my classroom. It would be good for the following:
• I would use this book when teaching students about different ways people can be discriminated against. Not just by race but also by age, religion, sex, etc. It is important to not just focus on the discrimination of this particular book but of all the different types in the world.
• It would be a great book to show a class different ways books can be written. This one is written as a script for a film. It shows that not all books are narratives. Some students may enjoy this type of writing better.
The book Monster is a very interesting and thought provoking book. Even though I am not a huge fan of how it is written, I think it makes many great points for the reader to think about. With discrimination being a major theme shown in the book, it makes Monster even more relevant to use with young adolescents. This is something that they need to learn about and be educated on. Monster demonstrates that theme very well.
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LibraryThing member adt112
Monster is about Steve Harmon who is on trial for the murder of a man in Steve's community. This book is written as a movie script. The beginning is very vague, because Steve tells his story through his experiences both present and past.
This book goes in detail about being in jail and the
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experiences and emotions that Steve is going through. As you are reading this book you meet different people who give their testimony about what happened when this man was murdered. Walter Dean Myers does an excellent job on describing the real life trial experience. This book gives a great example of everyday stereotyping.
I really enjoyed this book. I think that the older adolescent children should read this book, because the life tribulations and trails are so surreal. By reading this book children might would make the right decision on who they pick as friends or have more courage in standing up for themselves.
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LibraryThing member WhitneeJenkins
Monster is a fiction book written by Walter Dean Myers. The theme of the book is expressing the importance and the effects of peer pressure. Steve Harmon is sixteen year old. living in Harlem, who is on trial for murder. He is struggling with fact of not knowing his own fate.
The book is extremely
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interesting. It gives the reader insight into what happens in the lives of people who are behind bars. This book is great for adolescents of this era because it raises issues about crimes committed by children their ages. Not only that, is addresses the issues of racism. I agree with all the issues introduced because they are extrememly relevant. It reminds me of others books like "To Kill a Mocking Bird". My opinion about adolescent crimes and racism is the same as it was before reading the book.

Teaching Ideas:

*The importance of peer pressure to young adults
*The effects of stereotyping.
*The importance of showing diversity in the classroom

I thoroughly enjoyed the book. By the end of the book, the reader will have a better insight of what life is really like for young, black teens living in the ghetto. Myers leaves the door open for the reader to have his/her own opinion of the final verdict. All in all, the end result will leave anyone wanting to read more.
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LibraryThing member Kek146
Walter Dean Myers’ Monster was a book that I underestimated its brilliance and likableness. The story takes the reader and places him in the mind of Steve Harmon. The sixteen year old boy tells the story of his happenings and how he lands in prison, but that story is not told in the typical
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manner. The story is told through a movie script, which ultimately allows Steve Harmon’s passion and interest to be known. By knowing Steven as a movie maker, the reliability and sincerity of his character becomes a saving grace in the eyes of the reader. The journey that Steve Harmon takes the reader through provides a view of the world that tends to be over looked. Steve tells the reality of the life of many young black men raised in poorer area. As the reader, I took a journey to the mind and heart of Steve, and believed that despite the charges he was innocent. The innocence of Steve was a desire formed by his likeable nature and his young mind. The idea that Steve did not deserve to be blamed for premeditated actions of murder, came because the reader’s was able to understand Steve became a person, not a monster.
The book brings to life the reality that human’s judge. For Steve Harmon, the fact that his name was included with the murder immediately labeled him a monster. Steve never stood a change for being seen any other way, and his lawyer O’Brien told him his only hope was to become a person in the eyes of the jury. The stereotype that was placed of Steve comes from the fear of looking past something like race. The question that the reader is asked to mull over is; what is truth? Truth for Steve Harmon is that he did not murder Alguinaldo Nesbitt. However, the jury and the readers have the choice to believe Steve’s story as truth, or argue that the truth is found in the actual reality that Mr. Nesbitt is dead, and someone deserves to be punished. The book challenges the read to look past the appearances of something, and find humanity in it all. The saving grace and only hope for Steve Harmon was to be understood as a person, not a monster. However, in life people, including myself, find seeing people as monsters as less complicated than giving them their right to exist as an actual person. Humanity is a right to all people, but some fail to live in such a way that they deserve the right, yet some people lose the right before it is time. Steve Harmon is just one example of an individual that lost his right to be labeled human before he was truly found guilty. Instead of choosing to see Steve as a sixteen year old boy who happened to grow up in a bad area, we equate the bad area with having to produce bad behavior. The realization that we as people feel we deserve a right to judge others causes people like Steve’s lawyer, O’Brien, to always see Steve as a monster, even if he is proven innocent. The reality of this book is people judge, and how do the readers escape the inevitable judging nature. Monster reminds the reader to look past the appearance of situations and people, and look for the more, look for truth. That is how people like Steve Harmon are found, and truly are not guilty.
I truly enjoyed this book. I loved the fact that I was asked to care. The uncertainly of the actual happenings made me love the book even more. I was allowed and asked to actively participate in the outcome and understand of what really happened. I had to look at Steve Harmon’s life and decided if I could adequately deem him a monster. Through this process I found that every person in a human. However, some people choose to live in a way that makes them appear monster like. Through this book, I got challenged to look at someone, have to care. I had to care either about punishing or listening with a prejudice free perspective. Truth had to be a reality otherwise I would be a monster that never gave someone a free chance to prove himself innocent. I loved the choice to create my own view, and the one I created has become such a reality in my mind. I loved the freedom in this book.
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LibraryThing member MandyLCollins
Walter Dean Myers’s book Monster is a captivating story narrated by Steve Harmon, a possible suspect in the murder of Mr. Nesbitt. Monster is considered a book of fiction; however, the storyline is relatable to a non-fictional incident. Steve Harmon is black and is on trial for murder. With these
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descriptions and physical features, the story automatically addresses the idea of stereotypes and the fairness of the court room. Monster is a modern day story and contains many details and issues that occur in our present-day world. Steve is from Harlem, New York, and his childhood is a product of the undeveloped surroundings that encompasses his hometown. With his background information being essential in the case, the members of the jury are challenged to put aside all previous biases or stereotypes and give a verdict that is only developed by the evidence given.
The book Monster is written and narrated through Steve Harmon’s point of view. He gives sharp details of the jail cell, court room, and other characters that are beneficially to the realness of the scenario being described. The reader is able to understand all of Steve’s feelings as well as hear the contrasting opinions and conversation presented through the attorneys and other characters. Because the story is told through a script-like dialogue, the plot is simple and easily followed by the reader. According to Steve’s attorney, Kathy O’Brien, Steve Harmon finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. Although she states that Steve is not guilty, Steve believes that she has her doubts. As the story develops, Steve must endure the challenges of the jail, his family, and the members of the court. In the end, the verdict is questionable and leaves the reader to take a stand based on the evidence provided.
I found this book to be an easy and enjoyable read. Myers uses descriptive detail and allows the case to be observed from both sides. Through Steve’s testimony and narration, the reader is able to feel close to him and take a stand whether for guilty or non-guilty. In relation to my favorite books I would rank Monster in the top fifteen. The suspenseful storyline and cunning mechanisms used in the courtroom kept me entertained and kept me eager to read until I was finished. Myers captivated the idea that one decision can affect the rest of a person’s life. He used a situation that many adolescents can relate to and the importance of good character and friends. I admired the use of a suspenseful, real life story in order to portray the consequences of morally right and wrong decisions that Myers incorporated in Monster. Although it is sad to be in agreement with Myers, I feel that his portrayal of the courtroom was true. He showed through Steve’s questioning and answering that how a person states something can change the emotions and belief of those who are receiving or listening. Society promotes being an individual; however, I feel that a person is expected to become a certain image that is socially accepted and to not show weakness through vocabulary or style. Monster is similar to Intruder in the Dust because although the suspect pleads non-guilty, he is charged and is accepted based on his skin color and actions in the community.
Below are several teaching ideas, concerns, themes, or connections with other text that a teacher could consider important and could possibly teach:
• After reading this book, write a response to the verdict of Steve Harmon. Do you believe the verdict was fair and/or do you feel that Steve Harmon is really guilty/non-guilty? Why or Why not? Support your answer with evidence from the text.
• As a teacher, allow the students to discuss the theme of race found in Monster then ask them to write about how the issue of race is/is not still an issue today.
• A teacher should be careful to not boggle down the students with similar books to Monster. After completing the study, the teacher should follow up with a different genre and new concept that will allow the students to expand their horizons in literature.

Monster is an easy read that many students can relate to and provides moral issues as well as entertainment that will spark the students’ interest. Through all the issues of race, equality, stereotypes, and persuasion through language presented in the story, the reader is able to see the cause and effects of presentation and character in the world. It is important to remember the audience that will be reading this book before teaching it due to generalizations and real situations it contains; therefore, you should only read this book for enjoyment and not as a requirement of all students in your classroom.
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LibraryThing member IlonaJones
The book Monster is a fictional novel by Walter Dean Myers about a young man, Steve Harmon, seen through his eyes. He tells us of the ordeal he is going through because of some trouble he got into and the trial that follows. He tells us that he is on trial for attempted robbery that resulted in the
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murder of the store owner, but he insists that he is innocent. The book is written in a movie script format, it also has journal entries that Steve has been keeping while he is in jail and during the trial. Steve is a young, African-American who was grown up in what seems to be a rough neighborhood in Harlem. Myers also leads the reader to believe that Steve is from a lower class family.
This book deals with a lot of stereotyping, I think that is one of the main issues discussed. The author shows us how the jury and others see Steve and Mr. King and what they think of them because of their background. It is obvious that most of the other characters in the book think they are guilty by association and the fact that they are not from the best background. The author gives us a look into the mind of Steve Harmon; he shows us what he is thinking and how he feels. The reader also gets a look at some of the thoughts of other characters throughout the book because it is written in the form of a script. The trial takes place, both sides present their case, and then the jury deliberates to decide the fate of Steve Harmon. Depenending on the verdict Steve’s life could be ruined.
Personally, I enjoyed reading the book and thought the storyline was interestingly enough to catch the attention of middle graders. I also like that the book was easy to read and understand. I gave the book only three stars because probably not recommend it to anyone even though I liked it. The book has a suspense about itself while reading and after getting to the end one time, I can’t see how I would read it again.
Monster was intriguing to the extent that it let you see into the mind of young man and his role in a crime. It showed the perspective of many different people and many different beliefs. I think that it was a good book for a high school student, but I would not recommend it for anyone younger. My opinion of the book as a whole is that it is a decent book and I enjoyed it well enough.
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LibraryThing member Grabbag
"They are strangers, but they still find a way to hurt each other."

"The guards searched the Bible. I wanted to ask them if they found anything. salvation. grace. passion..."

A beautiful piece of literature that should be read by people of all ages, races, and political viewpoints.
LibraryThing member Carmenere
Sixteen year old, Steve Harmon is on trial for a crime he may or may not have participated in. As his story begins he is sitting in a prison cell feeling alone, scared and awaiting his first day of trial. He believes in order to get thru this he must disassociate himself from the proceedings, step
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back and treat it all as if it were a movie like those he made in Mr. Sawicki’s film class at school.
With that in mind, the story proceeds to be told using Steve’s journal as not only a record of his day to day activities and emotions but also as the script for the movie being produced in his mind’s eye.
This technique works very well especially for the Young Adult audience for whom it is intended. Rather than a boring narrative of the trial, the reader is placed inside the courtroom, in fact in Steven’s chair and with him the reader awaits the decision of the jury.
Would I recommend it………………………….A really good, fast paced story which I am particularly glad I read before my son for there are some terms and situations which I’ll now be prepared to discuss with him. If you haven’t read a YA book in awhile, I’d recommend picking this one up to see how insightful and real they can be.
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LibraryThing member LizMBradley
Monster is a novel where a 16 year old boy, Steve Harmon, is accused of being an accomplice in a robbery/murder. Though Steve has a doubtful defense team working to prove his innocence, Steve struggles with whether or not he is actually capable of the title "Monster".This story is depicted as
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Steve's personal journal and a movie script. This can get confusing because sometimes you may get what Steve feels mixed up with something from the movie script. Though this book didn't personally appeal to me, I think it would be a great read for a high school classroom in how the justice system can work for or against you. I also like the idea of the switch of perspective, however it just didn't translate well for me as a reader.
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LibraryThing member Jonathan_Walker
Walter Myers's, Monster, is a fiction book dealing with the issue of stereotyping. Steven Harmon, the protagonist, is a black sixteen year old male from Harlem, who was at the wrong place, at the wrong time, or was he? On trail for felony murder, Harmon decides to create a screenplay retelling the
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events of his trial. This book is a mixture of the screenplay that Steven is writing and his own personal journal entries. Harmon is convinced that he has done nothing wrong. However, his “acquaintances” as he calls them said that he was their look out, giving them the okay to enter the store. Throughout the trail Harmon's attorney tries to put distance between Harmon and the other defendants. It is not until Harmon takes the witness stand that the jury is able to truly hear his side of the story.

Walter Myers is a black author who mostly writes about adolescents who are growing up in the streets of Harlem. Monster is a perfect example of the hardships that adolescents face in society. Looking beyond the storyline, the reader will realize that someone does not have to be put on trial for murder to be judged wrongfully depending on what side of town he or she grew up on or the color of their skin. Myers is able to demonstrate that stereotyping is a forceful habit that needs to be stopped through his character, Steven Harmon.

Monster is very interesting the unique style works great with the storyline; it's just like watching an episode of “Law & Order,” but your imagination builds the stage. Stereotyping is an issue that is always going to be a problem; however, Myers's takes the issue and shows how one life can be affected for life. Hopefully by reading this younger generations will be able to grow up knowing that stereotyping is wrong and they can help change society's issue with stereotyping. The book really shows how peer pressure is a battle that children face throughout their adolescent lives; however, I do not think the book properly illustrated that it is better to stand by yourself than join any group that will take you.

- Stereotyping
- Racism

One book that comes to my mind after reading Monster is The Scarlet Letter. Both books have entirely different plots but both deal with the issue of judging based on the situation. Harmon was already guilty of murder before he was given the time to be found guilty or not guilty, and Hester Prynne was judged by other born sinful humans for a crime that should only be judged by the Creator of the Law, God. The morals with which I grew up learning taught me that “if you do not stand for something, you will fall for anything.” Harmon's character is in that position at the beginning of the story, and the ending in a way leaves the truth to be discovered by the reader. Although the book dealt with stereotyping due to the people with whom Harmon was acquaintances, in my personal opinion this book dealt with the issue of racism. Had the character, Steven, been a white kid from the suburban community, he most likely would not have been stereotyped with the other people involved in the robbery and murder. The book really helped me realize that stereotyping a person is easier to do than giving them the benefit of the doubt. Personally, I strongly dislike that our society stereotypes its citizens due to where they live, the people with whom they associate, or the color of their skin. I believe that this book can allow for today's youth to be aware of the effects that stereotyping people is wrong and it can cause damage to the people being stereotyped. I would highly recommend this book to anyone, due to its unique style and the issue that it brings to surface. Furthermore, this book can show that reading can be fun and interesting to someone that may not like to read. I would rate this 4.5 out of 5 stars from the books that I have read throughout my life. So for someone that is not a big fan of reading, I would suggest Walter Myers's, Monster.
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LibraryThing member erineell
Sixteen year-old Steve Harmon is on trial as an accomplice of robbery and murder of a drug store owner. This fast-paced story is about the trial and is told through Steve, revealing his perspective and feelings surrounding this case (i.e., being in jail, how others view him, the affects it has on
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his family, the events of the crime). Unsure of his fate and as a means to make sense of this incident, Steve decides to write a screenplay of the trial while in court. Myer’s choice of language and how he used the protagonist to tell the story is both unique and engaging. Readers will feel as if they are sitting in the courtroom listening to the trial; for anyone who has been present in a courtroom during a murder trial will recognize the raw truthfulness of this novel. The format of Monster (change of font, topography, script format, images and court sketches) enhances the story, helping readers distinguish the screenplay from Steve’s thoughts outside the courtroom. Overall, this well written novel will keep the attention of young adult readers and leave them questioning whether Steve participated in the crime or not.

Age Appropriate: 8th grade and higher

Although Monster is at a low readability (roughly 4th grade), the concepts and content within this novel are for mature readers. This book would be appropriate for high school classes that are serving students that are low-level readers. Conversely, the format (constant switching of setting and variety of characters) within Monster could be confusing for such students who are reading the book independently.
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LibraryThing member ShannaThomp08
Monster written by Walter Dean Myers is a fiction novel that takes place in downtown modern New York City with "people going about the business of their collecting garbage...and students on the way to school"(11), or in other words a typical New York scenery.

In this story Walter Dean
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creates a screenplay and takes reader's inside a trial of a young man by the name of Steve Harmon that has been accused of robbery and murder. Throughout the story the reader is forced to enter a court room scene where each character is questioned about the crime. As people are put one the stand, questions are asked, and statements are made, Steve is left to rely on his lawyer and hope for the best.

My opionion about this book is that I thought the idea of creating a screenplay was very creative. For example, Myeres uses film dialect in that he uses words such as fade in, cut to, using abbrevations such as vo for voice over and ms for medium shot. I feel like it really creates the scene for the readers and makes them feel actually inside the story. Apart from the creativity of how the book is written some of the issues the book raises is peer pressure that teens feel trying to fit in rather than being themselves and the fact that in our justice system people are often prejudged for a crime rather than by law;being innocent until proven gulity. Myers' opinions about teen peer pressure is that it does happen and when poor choices are made their are consequences. As far as people being prejudged in our justice system Myers' wanted the reader to know that even though the law states a person is innocent until proven gulity people often times assume that they are gulity and the person has to prove that they are innocent. I agree with the author's opinions towards these issues because they are issues that people face everyday and it is always good to be able to have a personal connection with the story. In relation to the issues stated above some larger issues tha today's society is facee with is bullying in school which often times is from peer pressure and how people are unable to separate their own beliefs and values when dealing with the government. After reading this book my opinion about these issues just further confirmet the fact that these things do go on and it made me also wonder what can I do to possibly change them.

Some ideas and comments for teachers that might want to teach this text can: 1) Can make all the students make a list of good and bad decisions that they have made in their lives and if they could go back what could they have done differently about the bad decisions that they made(Introduction to the text) 2) The book can then be read and maybe they can discuss how Steve might be similar to them and what they could do differently 3) Can also create literature circles.

Overall, I thought the book was an ok book,only because it leaves the reader wondering about alot of things. I feel like the main theme of the book is that life is full of choices and whatever chocie you make be sure you are ready for the consequences good or bad.
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LibraryThing member Markell08
The book Monster was written by American author Walter Dean Myers and was published by Harpercollins in 1999. Monster is classified as non-fiction young adult drama novel. Monster was nominated for the 1999 National Book Award for Young People's Literature. It was also named a Coretta Scott King
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Award Honor the same year. Monster Books's themes are introspection, which mean Steve must come to reach his own identity. The next theme is peer pressure. If Steve have not given into the peer pressure by James King. The last theme is humanity. Steve was called "monster" by the Assistant District Attorney at the beginning of the story. Steve ask himself whether or not he is a monster for being involved in the robbery. The book was very interesting because things and situations like this happen each and everyday to young mens. Monster is about a 16 year old young african american young man name Steve Harmon. Steve is forced into a robbery which led him to be put on trial for murder. He was accused for being a lookout for James King. The book plot focuses on Steve time in prison and his experiences while in the courtroom throughout the trial.
I strongly agree with the author's opinions about this book because he gives strong opinions about prejudice. The authors opinions about prejudice is showed throughout the book. Monster addresses and suggest a lot of issues such as the way society is, how young people are easily pressured by peers, and how being in the wrong place at the wrong time can get you in trouble. I can relate this book to issue in the world today. There are some people in the world today that are sitting in jail because of hanging with the wrong crowd or being in the wrong place. After reading this book my opinons did not change. The book really affected me because I seem him to be innocent but he was still sitting in jail because of what the people thought. My opinions about the book after reading it was still the same. My comments and ideas about the book are good. I really enjoyed reading this book because it is something that young adults can relate to and learn from especially children 16 and older of age. This is a book that I would recommend to children every especially middles school or high school students. I would recommend this book to 6-12 grade students, I feel like it is more for them instead of letting a kindergarten and so on read it. Some teaching connections from this book for teachers can be teaching to a class of teenagers especially a class that have alot of young men in it and also can be taught in literature circles because the children are able to talk upon themselves about the book. The issues that I see in the book is that peer pressure is very strong and being yourself and your on identity is important even in the world today. My main point about Monster is that it really can teach a life learn lesson.
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LibraryThing member Jonathan_Miles
Written in screenplay form with occasional diary entries, the novel "Monster", by Walter Dean Myers, is the story of Steve Harmon, a sixteen-year-old New Yorker on trial for his role as a "lookout" for a drugstore robbery gone bad. Myers' development of Steve as a character is fascinating--in the
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first-person diary entries, he describes prison life and expresses his worries about losing touch with his family and friends. He maintains his innocence, despite never really going in-depth about the crime itself, except through his rendition of courtroom testimony in his screenplay. That part of the book is Steve's way of coping with his situation--he writes what he sees, partly in order to convince himself that he will make it out of this intact, and partly to keep some semblance of his life before it was turned upside down by his arrest.

Myers presents an inside look at the justice system and its treatment of prisoners through Steve's eyes. He has little sympathy for the men who have (allegedly) implicated Steve. Steve's attorney, Miss O'Brien, is wary of Steve because of the accusations against him. Steve is a kid who once thought he had the world on a string--he was a good student, well-liked, possibly with a promising future, but now, he's nothing but a criminal. It also looks at the system through the eyes of Steve's fellow prisoners, many of whom have given up on the hope of ever living a normal life again. Even Steve wonders if he will one day resign himself to that fate--he speculates in one of the interspersed journal entries about the possibility of spending the rest of his life in jail, and at one point even wishes he had the nerve to kill himself.

Myers is known for his exploration of the character of troubled young men, and Steve Harmon reminded me of Richie Perry, the lead character in Myers' 1988 novel about the Vietnam War, Fallen Angels. Richie, like Steve, is a product of Harlem's mean streets. And his experiences fighting in the Vietnam War are the forces that shape him as an individual and change his outlook on life, just as Steve's opinion of himself and his view of the world change during the course of his trial.

"Monster" is the story of a young man who has made some poor choices in selecting his friends, and the consequences that can come from hanging with the wrong crowd. For many young adults, it could be a game-changer--reading firsthand about the catharsis that can stem from delinquency and a life of crime. Because committing a crime does change a person, and also how the world views him. And by our justice system, a person can be tried and convicted of capital murder, whether they pulled the trigger or not. Guilt by association can be the downfall of any man (or young adult, in this case) who doesn't exercise caution in choosing who they "hang out" with.
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½ (1061 ratings; 3.7)
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