Lockdown, by New York Times bestselling author, Walter Dean Myers, is a beautiful story. So just how can a book with handcuffs on its cover, and a title like "lockdown" be beautiful? It can...especially when it's the story of a troubled teen who wants more out of life than drive-by's, beat-downs, and drugs on the corner, and he's on his own to figure out how to get it.
Now, don't get me wrong, Lockdown isn't a mushy story; not by a longshot. The main character, Reese Anderson, is a tough one. He knows how to use his hands to keep other inmates off him, and he does just that on more than one occasion. He knows how to look hard so no one will think he's weak, and he even knows how to skim over the bad stuff so his little sister thinks everything's fine in juvy-jail, when it's really awful.
Yet Reese has a softer side--a side that many people who see teens in cuffs don't bother to look for. He feels fear and uncertainty over his future. He feels compassion for a lonely old crank in a nursing home who hurls insults at everyone, when all he really needs is to be understood. But most of all, he hates watching weak kids in juvy get beat down just because they're weak, and he's willing to stop that from happening, even if it means more time added to his calendar.
Yes, Reese--who is considered so dangerous he's cuffed to a van rail each time he's transported somewhere, is actually a kind soul. His one mistake--and boy, was it a big one--was to break into a doctor's office, steal some blank prescription pads, and sell them to a drug dealer. But once he's incarcerated, Reese has time to figure out where he went wrong; what his life was, and what it could be if he can just make it to the end of his sentence.
I found this book touching on many levels. I felt Reese's hopelessness as he pondered his "raggedy" home life...that same life he would be returning to upon his release. I marveled at the cluelessness of those into whose hands these troubled teens fall--not because they expect them to pay for what they've done (for well they should), but because they can't seem to find better solutions for their lives once the payment has been rendered. I rejoiced with Reese as he gloried in his little sister's bold dream of becoming the first woman president, but I also held back a mother's tears, because no one important in Reese's life ever helped him realize his potential...and that, my friend, is just a darn shame.
If you want a well-written, moving, in-your-face read that explores real life, real problems and real solutions, be sure to pick up a copy of Lockdown. It's a different world.