Sonderbooks Book Reviews by Sondra Eklund

Sonderbooks Stand-out 2004
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*****= An all-time favorite
****  = Outstanding
***    = Above average
**      = Enjoyable
*        = Good, with reservations

   cover

****The Beast

by Walter Dean Myers

Reviewed September 12, 2004.
Scholastic Press, New York, 2003.  170 pages.
Sonderbooks Stand-out 2004, #5, Young Adult Contemporary Novels

I didn’t intend to read The Beast, since the topic sounded grim and depressing.  Then I read the prologue, and it was so beautiful, I knew I had to read on.

Anthony Witherspoon, from Harlem, is leaving for school in New Haven.  He hopes that this step will enable him to go to an Ivy League college and open up new horizons for him.  But now he must say good-by to his Dominican girlfriend Gabi.

“May the same waters that take you bring you back to me,” Gabi says to him.

Anthony promises her “to be true to you, and that our first child will have eyes as dark as the winter sky.”  Anthony confides to us, “I was nervous about leaving the city, and about the school, but I wasn’t concerned with my feelings about Gabi.  I knew that I loved her, and that I always would.  I don’t know how I knew it, but I did.”

School is difficult, and Anthony doesn’t get back home until Christmas break.  Things have changed in his old neighborhood.  Gabi’s mother is dying, and he learns that she is using drugs.  She knows better, but she hasn’t been able to fight it.  Can their love get through this?

The Beast is a sad book, but it’s a sadness touched with hope.  This is a beautifully written, poetic book that I won’t forget in a hurry.

Reader comment:  Martin Garcia gives this book 5 stars with the comment:  "I really think this book is great because when I saw it I didn't want to read it and after I started reading it I wanted to read it until I finished it."

Copyright © 2005 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.

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