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Beast, The Hardcover – October 1, 2003


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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 8 Up-Anthony "Spoon" Witherspoon, 17, leaves Harlem, and his girl, Gabi, to spend his senior year at Wallingford Academy in Connecticut, with the hope that he will get into an Ivy League college. While he adjusts to prep-school life and navigates the racial and social divides of the haves and the want-to-haves, Gabi's life comes undone. Her mother is dying, her younger brother may be running with a gang, and her blind grandfather has come to stay. When Spoon comes home for Christmas, Gabi is different. She's thinner, certainly, and so is her spirit. Spoon discovers a needle in her room and "the beast," heroin, is uncovered. Gabi-a clear-eyed, sassy Dominicana who writes poetry and dreams of attending Columbia-explains that she has lost the road that once ran through her life to her future. Most of the first-person narrative takes place during the holiday break in Harlem, and Myers's descriptions of the streets and people-the bright, clean, working-class hope and the slate-gray bankruptcy of drugs and crime-are photographically authentic and dizzyingly musical. Spoon's observations are philosophical and precocious, but the story races along at the pace of his anxieties-about a future, with or without Gabi, and about his place in Harlem and in the world. The language is simple and clean; the plot unfolds seamlessly; and the characters emerge shaky, worldly wise, and cautiously optimistic.
Johanna Lewis, New York Public Library
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Gr. 9-12. High-school senior Spoon hopes to marry his girlfriend, Gabi, an aspiring poet with "a smile that pleases the angels," and he hates to leave her for a year to attend a Connecticut prep school. During the fall, Gabi's letters become infrequent, and when Spoon returns home for the holidays, he's heartbroken to discover that she has begun to use "the beast": drugs. In his latest novel, Myers tells a powerful story of first love and the profound ways that drugs touch everyone: "If Gabi could lose her way, so could I." Spoon narrates in a voice that's artistic and colloquial, his thoughts tumbling out as poetry, and readers may miss the precise sense of some passages. But Myers captures the disorientation of living between worlds, where home is "the same, but not the same," and Spoon's sharp observations about race and love will resonate deeply with teens, as will his ambivalence about the future: "I don't know. I'm not even sure what there is to know." Gillian Engberg
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 680L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic Press; 1 edition (October 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0439368413
  • ISBN-13: 978-0439368414
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,562,160 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Walter Dean Myers is a New York Times bestselling and critically acclaimed author who has garnered much respect and admiration for his fiction, nonfiction, and poetry for young people. Winner of the first Michael L. Printz Award, he is considered one of the preeminent writers for children. He lives in Jersey City, New Jersey, with his family.

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on June 29, 2004
Format: Hardcover
"The Beast", along with "Monster" and "Scorpions" is another masterwork of Walter Dean Myers, one of the greatest writers of our time. The story is about a college freshman who leaves his home in the projects of Harlem and his poet/girlfriend Gabi, for college. When he returns to Harlem for Christmas break he finds everything different, especially Gabi who is thinner and doesn't talk much anymore. Spoon(the college kid) discovers that Gabi's using drugs and the book has to do with the battle to get his girlfriend away from the beast.
This book is amazing. There are unique characters like Gabi's grandfather and Gabi's little brother who runs with gangs.
The one thing I would've liked is if it would've given more detail to Gabi and her brother getting cleaned. Myers kind've skips through really fast so you don't really see the emotion of quitting drugs.
But this is still an amazing book for all readers. I recommend you read all his books and then read some of Donald Goines novels if you're ready for them.
"The Beast"= A+
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on April 12, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Book Review

Title: The Beast Author: Walter D. Myers

ISBN: 0-06-440731-4

Returning To These Mean Streets

Have you ever went away and then came back to a place that you know so well but are so confused about it all? Or had someone that you were really close to do the most self destructive thing? When I first wanted to read this book it was right after my teacher Mrs. Lyons gave her book talk about it. When she read some parts from it I automatically fell in love with it.

This book is about a guy named Anthony Spoon who went away to boarding school and came back to Harlem, a place that he was raised that wasn't so bad when he left but was so chaotic when he returned. He comes home from school to be a mentor and to be confused about the relationship between him and his girlfriend Gabi. Gabi was a nice poet who Anthony fell in love with before he left to school. He thought she had it all. Brains, beauty, and street smarts. But just like most people she got sucked into the game of life and got rapped up in the mean streets.

I think that this book was a spectacular book. It talked about the real things that go on in life and that's the kind of books that I like to read. Although I didn't quite agree with choices that Anthony made it was still a great joy to read this. I feel that if Anthony would stay with someone it should be Chanelle (another character in the book that he tends to lust about). I also don't feel that the ending of the book fit the criteria of the book. I thought that it would be a real eye opener or a great cliff hanger.

Some things to know about the author Walter Dean Myers are: he was the first winner of the Michael L.
Read more ›
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By annmmar on August 9, 2004
Format: Hardcover
The Beast describes the use of heroin. Anthony "Spoon" Witherspoon has gone away to prep school in his senior year of high school. He left behind not only his family but the woman he loves Gabi(short for Gabriela).When he returns homes for christmas he realizes things are not the same. One of his friends drop out from school and the neighborhood good girl Clara is preganant. Anthony starts to wonder about his neighborhood and feeling strange being in Harlem again. The most devasting change in his life is when he finds out the woman he loves uses(heroin). Anthony is heartbroken but tries his best to be there for her.Walter Dean Myers do give a vivid imagery of Harlem and its people but I do not like how he ends the book. I would have like to know some more about Gabi if she stayed clean and what happen to her relationship with Anthony.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By JMack VINE VOICE on September 1, 2013
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Walter Dean Myers is one of my favorite young adult authors because he pushes boundaries. On the other hand, I feel that he sometimes does not push the boundaries far enough. "The Beast" is a prime example of not pushing the boundary far enough, as heroin addiction is does not look as bad as it really is.

Spoon leaves his home and girlfriend to go to a fancy prep school. When he returns, he does not recognize the world he left behind. Further, Spoon returns to find his girlfriend Gabi now "skin surfing" and a shadow of her former self. Stuck between two worlds, Spoon must help his girlfriend to save her from herself.

While the structure of the story is sound, many questions are left unanswered. Why would Spoon take back his girlfriend, who has been shooting heroin. Normally, IV drug users are a big turn-off. What was Gabi doing to acquire heroin? I am certain she was not on an extended free sample program, so she had to earn it somehow. This also makes it very hard for me to believe that Spoon, or any right minded boy/man would take her back. Issues of diseases from needle sharing are only partly addressed. When/If these questions get answered, it would shift the whole dynamic of the story. But at the same time, it would also make the story much more realistic.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Shannon Schenk on September 12, 2009
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I teach in an inner-city urban school with 5th and 6th graders. While I had some minor concerns about the basis of the book's foundation about a meth addiction, I found that it true to form fit the lives and decisions my students often face in their own lives. In addition many of my students, have relatives, even parents, with this issue and they are constantly torn between this life and making good decisions for themselves. They love Walter Dean Myers and are always requesting more of his books. They particularly love this one, Street Love, Hoops, and The Game. If you are looking to grab the interest and get your students reading, this book will help you on your way. One more thing....if you are using it in a literature study, there are discussion questions at the back of the book to help guide your instruction. Happy reading!!!
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