It started small, with a pack of gum or a candy bar.
When you didn’t get caught, you moved to larger things: a can of soda or a game in your pocket. Most times, you didn’t need whatever it was you stole but it really wasn’t about the thing, anyhow. It was about getting away with it.
But, of course, you got caught. And just like everybody who’s been caught stealing, you had to pay for what you did, both monetarily and with punishment. Yeah, that stinks but so does stealing.
In the new book “Lockdown” by Walter Dean Myers, a young man admits that he took something that wasn’t his. So can’t somebody give him a break?
The food in Progress Juvenile Center was edible, but barely so. Fourteen-year-old Maurice “Reece” Anderson ate it, but it wasn’t the same as when Icy cooked. Icy, who was just nine, tended to burn things but that was okay. Icy was Reece’s sister and his heart, and whatever she did was all good.
It would be awhile, though, before Reece would taste Icy’s cooking again. Two years ago, he broke into some doctor’s office, stole a few prescription pads, and sold them to a drug dealer. When the dealer was caught, he squealed. Now Reece was serving two calendars and then some.
Living in a cell was scary at first, but Reece had come to like solitude. Yeah, he was shut off from the world but the world couldn’t get in, either, and he could think in his cell. Once he got out, he was going to make something of himself. He was going to save up and send Icy to college. He just needed to keep cool.
But keeping cool wasn’t easy. Diego, Reece’s section-mate, kept acting the fool, sucking up to some gangster, saying he was going to jump Toon into the 3-5-7 gang. But Toon was just a kid, about 12, and Reece hated to see the little dude get hurt. He stuck up for his boy even though Reece knew that fighting was a good way to stay in juvie.
Reece wanted to go home. He missed Icy and his friends. While he knew he had a little work to do on himself, there was no way he was up for more lockdown.
If you do, then you’ll love reading “Lockdown” because it’s the story of a teen who reaches for the future, only to be beaten down again and again by things that only seem to be beyond his control.
Author Walter Dean Myers doesn’t glorify crime in this book, nor does he pander to his fans. Instead, his characters speak like other teens and live in a world that kids can understand. I liked this book for what it says and the way it will ring true with young readers.
Meant for 12-to-17-year-olds, “Lockdown” is also a quick and satisfying read for any adult with a kid in the house. It promotes the best kind of theft: stealing time to read.
(“Lockdown” by Walter Dean Myers, Amistad, $16.99, 256 pages)
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