Review: Lockdown

Lockdown Lockdown by Walter Dean Myers
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Lockdown by Walter Dean Myers had its merits for depicting the real-world liminality and faulty-logical approaches to the criminal justice system; particularly as it is applied to minors. It also balanced simplicity with complexity well. The story’s shell embodied a simple short course of events that the main character, Reese experiences. He’s given an option to become part of a work-release program. He meets a disgruntled and bigoted man, the develop a sincere and deep relationship, and Reese learns about himself and his life by listening to this older man. Meanwhile, his situation in the detention center (named “Progress” of course) is deteriorating especially after two cops show up to bully him into taking a plea for crimes he had no responsibility for. Reese’s story in the larger picture is not an intense life or death situations nor the stuff of mainstream drama; after all, by our cultural standards, young black male in cuffs seems standard fair, (Note: that’s our cultural perception/projection, not my actual view).

Yet, that’s where Myers slides in some rather interesting complexity. Through Reese’s eyes we get to glimpse that there are many roads that are closed off to a young man of fourteen. His most important goal by the story’s end is to work hard so that he can help pay for his young and bright nine-year old sister when she gets to college; believing that his chance is gone. There are many moments when Reese has to come to terms with his options or lack thereof and while Myers is at times a little to heavy handed with these decrees and condemnations of modern society, they are nonetheless poignant.

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