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No choirboy : murder, violence, and teenagers on death row (edition 2008)

by Susan Kuklin

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1892362,490 (4.04)5
Member:Tiggerwell
Title:No choirboy : murder, violence, and teenagers on death row
Authors:Susan Kuklin
Info:New York : Henry Holt and Co., c2008.
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No Choirboy: Murder, Violence, and Teenagers on Death Row by Susan Kuklin

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Attorney Bryan Stevenson said, "But I reject the view that the world is divided into two sections: the victims of violent crimes and the offenders." Stevenson is just one of many people Susan Kuklin interviewed to tell the story of convicts, victims, and everyone in-between. Susan Kuklin's book about "murder, violence, and teenagers" compels the reader to look beyond the surface to see the complexity of crimes and those who commit crimes. Pieced together from interviews, letters, emails, this book shares the story of young men on death row, family members of those who have died on death row, and family members of those who have been killed. Kuklin offers little to no commentary; instead, she lets the voices of these (mostly) young men be heard by allowing them to tell their story in their own words. In fact, in the author's note, Kuklin said she refrained from stressing certain themes or letting her own bias get in the way of the stories.

This book is not meant to be a political piece or even an anti-capital punishment diatribe. However, the young people in this book force the reader to ask the question Kuklin identified while writing the book: "Are you the sum total of your worst acts?" Confronted with the harsh realities of prison and a less-than-fair justice system, the reader has no choice but to reflect on her own underlying beliefs regarding capital punishment. Thought-provoking, life-changing, heart-breaking, raw and candid, this book leaves the reader with more questions than answers, like any good book should. ( )
  cskaemmerling | Feb 28, 2017 |
One of the most compelling arguments against capital punishment is the frightening reality that many of the sentences belong to teenagers. Through interviews with the author, several young men explain what led to their incarceration and describe their experiences in the penal and justice systems. The stories and circumstances of the young men in this book are tragic and upsetting. As a result, the reader is led to empathize with these men, even though many of them are admitted murderers. In addition to interviews with the prisoners, notes in the appendix of the book indicate that the specifics about the individual cases were gathered from court documents since many of the inmates were still involved in the appeals process and could not discuss those details. The author also interviewed lawyers for two of the inmates that specialize in capital punishment cases, as well as the family of a murder victim. The author, Susan Kuklin, is a photographer and writer of over 30 books for young adults, mostly nonfiction. Kuklin’s central question, “Are you the sum total of your worst acts?” illustrates her bias in this work. She clearly has a negative perception regarding the role politics, economics, and society play in capital punishment cases; how race and class can affect both convictions and sentencing. I believe most teenagers can relate to this book. The language is not intimidating to young readers, and the author includes a glossary of legal terms for clarity. ( )
  rsaxon | Feb 15, 2017 |
Mature reading. ( )
  jothebookgirl | Jan 3, 2017 |
This is a no-holds-barred depiction of prison life as described by death-row prisoners who committed murder as teenagers. It's rounded out with interviews with victims of violence and a lawyer who fights for the rights of death-row inmates. Fans of gritty street reads will get into the inmates' true stories but the realities of life for inmates and victims will give pause. A literary "Scared Straight." ( )
  Salsabrarian | Feb 2, 2016 |
RGG: First person narrative of four different teenagers' experiences on Death Row--the crimes they committed, their lives before, and their experiences behind bars, depicted in detail but not salaciously and with compassion but not pity. Each boy's voice is distinct making their stories relatively easy to follow. However, the realism is not for the faint of heart--these are not happy stories!. Reading Level: YA.
  rgruberhighschool | May 17, 2015 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0805079505, Hardcover)

No Choirboy takes readers inside America’s prisons, and allows inmates sentenced to death as teenagers to speak for themselves. In their own voices—raw and uncensored—they talk about their lives in prison, and share their thoughts and feelings about how they ended up there. Susan Kuklin also gets inside the system, exploring capital punishment itself and the intricacies and inequities of criminal justice in the United States.

This is a searing, unforgettable read, and one that could change the way we think about crime and punishment.
 
No Choirboy: Murder, Violence, and Teenagers on Death Row is a 2009 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:42 -0400)

In their own voices--raw and uncensored--inmates sentenced to death as teenagers talk about their lives in prison, and share their thoughts and feelings about how they ended up there. Susan Kuklin also gets inside the system, exploring capital punishment itself and the intricacies and inequities of criminal justice in the United States.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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