Synopses & Reviews
The story of twelve-year-old Jamal, whose life changes drastically when he acquires a gun. Though he survives the experience, it's not without sacrificing his innocence and possibly his relationship with his best friend.
1989 Newbery Honor Book
Notable Children's Books of 1988 (ALA)
1988 Best Books for Young Adults (ALA)
1989 Recommended Books for Reluctant Young Adult Readers (ALA)
The USA Through Children's Books 1990 (ALA)
Young Adult Choices for 1990 (IRA)
1989 Judy Lopez Children's Books Award, Honorable Mention
Children's Books of 1988 (Library of Congress)
1989 Books for the Teen Age (NY Public Library)
About the Author
Walter Dean Myers is an award-winning writer of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry for young people. He has received the Margaret A. Edwards Award for his contribution to young adult literature and is a five-time winner of the Coretta Scott King Award. His many titles include Bad Boy: A Memoir; Monster,
the 2000 Michael L. Printz Award winner and National Book Award Finalist; and Malcolm X: A Fire Burning Brightly,
illustrated by Leonard Jenkins. Walter Dean Myers lives in Jersey City, New Jersey.
In His Own Words...
I am a product of Harlem and of the values, color, toughness and caring that I found there as a child.I learned my flat jump shot in the church basement and got my first kiss during recess at Bible school. I played the endless street games kids played in the pre-television days and paid enough attention to candy and junk food to dutifully alarm my mother.
From my foster parents, the Deans, I received the love that was ultimately to strengthen me, even when I had forgotten its source. It was my foster mother, a half Indian-half German woman, who taught me to read, though she herself was barely literate.
I had a speech difficulty but didn't view it as anything special. It wasn't necessary for me to be much of a social creature once I discovered books. Books took me, not so much to foreign lands and fanciful adventures, but to a place within myself that I have been constantly exploring ever since.
The George Bruce Branch of the public Library was my most treasured place. I couldn't believe my luck in discovering what I enjoyed most -- reading -- was free. And I was tough enough to carry the books home through the streets without too many incidents.
At sixteen it seemed a good idea to leave school, and so I did. On my seventeenth birthday I joined the army. After the army there were jobs -- some good, some bad, few worth mentioning. Leaving school seemed less like a good idea.
Writing for me has been many things. It was a way to overcome the hindrance of speech problems as I tried to reach out to the world. It was a way of establishing my humanity in a world that often ignores the humanity of those in less favored positions. It was a way to make a few extra dollars when they were badly needed.
What I want to do with the writing keeps changing, too. Perhaps I just get clearer in what it is I am doing. I'm sure that after I'm dead someone will lay it all out nicely. I'd hate to see what kind of biography my cat, Askia, would write about me. Probably something like "Walter Dean Myers had enormous feet, didn't feed me on time, and often sat in my favorite chair." At any rate, what I think I'm doing now is rediscovering the innocence of children that I once took for granted. I cannot relive it or reclaim it, but I can expose it and celebrate it in the books I write. I really like people -- I mean I really like people -- and children are some of the best people I know.
I've always felt it a little pretentious to write about yourself, but it's not too bad if you don't write too much.
-- Walter Dean Myers