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THE BEAST by Walter Dean Myers

THE BEAST

By Walter Dean Myers

Age Range: 14 & up

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2003
ISBN: 0-439-36841-3
Publisher: Scholastic

Journeys are hard, and often there are beasts to face along the way. It’s a theme repeated many times in Myers’s story of Anthony Witherspoon, 17, home in Harlem after his first term at an exclusive New England boarding school. Ambivalent about leaving in the first place, now he feels as if his old neighborhood has already changed, or he has changed, or maybe he is already seeing things as an outsider. His girlfriend Gabi has become a drug addict and other friends seem lost or trapped. Harlem street life seems like a labyrinth, a monster maze, with beasts ready to snatch you up for making a wrong turn. Allusions to demons, Herod killing babies, the Black Plague, saints who sometimes fail you, and beasts who sometimes comfort lend a mythic air to a realistic story that offers no easy answers. If there are no magicians waving helpful wands, at least there’s the possibility of hope, promise, and belief “in a heart that sees beauty and a soul that prays for love.” (Fiction. YA)