Title: No Choirboy: Murder, Violence and Teenages on Death Row.
Author: Susan Kuklin
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company
This book is a combination of criminals’, victims’ and lawyers’ views regarding the death penalty and teen offenders. The stories involving these incarcerated teens will keep the reader engaged and you will feel a connection through the narration of each convict’s story. There was an element of shock involved in many of the stories due to the reality of the crime committed and the punishment received. Each story is told through the teen’s own observations and their views of life and prison life and the atrocities they have or watched others suffer. Gilliam Engberg of Booklist mentioned, “Kuklin presents, with signature frankness, the men’s memories of their young lives; the murders, for which some claim innocence; and the brutal realities (including rape and other acts of extreme violence) of incarcerated life, first on death row and then in maximum-security prison, where most of the prisoners are now held” (Booklist, Sep. 15, 2008 (Vol. 105, No. 2)).
Kuklin did a good job of presenting the accurate information regarding the death penalty and underage offenders. The visual pictures that are included in the book gives the reader the ability to connect with the offender in a humanizing way instead of just seeing the harshness of the crime that was committed. Gillian Engberg of Booklist mentioned, “The mix of voices makes for a somewhat chaotic but riveting whole that combines powerfully with the occasional photos and hand-drawn portraits of the subjects” (Booklist, Sep. 15, 2008 (Vol. 105, No. 2)). The setting is primarily takes place through prison interviews but does branch out to the courtrooms of the legal system and attorneys involved. Even thought the story is a one-sided view, this book would be valuable to anyone who is interested in law or the death penalty.
Gillian Engberg (Booklist, Sep. 15, 2008 (Vol. 105, No. 2)):
Kirkus (Kirkus Reviews, June 15, 2008 (Vol. 76, No. 12)):
"Death Row inmates sentenced to die for crimes they committed as juveniles are profiled here, as well as victims' families, the family of one man already put to death and the lawyer who founded the Equal Justice Initiative of Alabama, an organization focused on the rights of indigent prisoners. Kuklin lets the inmates tell their stories in their own words, providing some minor narration about legal points. Readers may be surprised to learn of the diverse backgrounds of those convicted of capital crimes: Not all came from broken homes or disadvantaged backgrounds. Some didn't have a criminal record prior to their convictions. This is an excellent read for any student researching the death penalty or with an interest in law and sociology. The author/photographer paints the convicts and their families as neither wholly good nor bad, but human. The convicts themselves speak with a wisdom that can only come from years of negotiating the dangers of prison life, and their stories may change more than one mind regarding what makes a criminal. 2008, Henry Holt, 256p, $16.95. Category: Nonfiction. Ages 13 up. © 2008 Kirkus Reviews/VNU eMedia, Inc. All rights reserved." Retrieved from the Children's Literature Database (accessed on November 09, 2009).
You can visit the author's website to read more information on this book by clicking on: http://www.susankuklin.com/newsletter.htm (Accessed November 9, 2009).
Other books that may be of interest:
Korman, Gordon. The Juvie Three. Hyperion. 2008. RTE $15.99. ISBN 978-1-4231-0158-1.
Jacobs, Thomas A. They Broke the Law, You Be the Judge: True Cases of Teen Crime. Free Spirit. 2003. pap. $15.95. ISBN 978-1-57542-134-6.
Rapp, Adam. The Buffalo Tree. Front St. 2007. pap. $10.95. ISBN 978-1-93242-599-4.