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The Beast Mass Market Paperback – May 1, 2005

4.1 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Mass Market Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic Paperbacks (May 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0439368421
  • ISBN-13: 978-0439368421
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #877,836 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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.
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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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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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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I finished this book yesterday, but had to give myself some time to think about it before writing anything down. There's a lot to say when you come across a book like this, the questions is always what can I say that will make other people want to read it?

Of course there's the plot. A kid who grew up in Harlem goes to a private boarding school, only to come back over Christmas break and find everything has changed. His girlfriend is addicted to heroin, her younger brother is messing around in gangs, his friends have dropped out of high school. Suddenly he feels like an outsider in a place he has always considered his own. His territory. Where does he fit in now? Definitely not with the rich kids at his school, but not in the hood anymore either. He feels completely lost.

For me, the most striking this was the language used to describe life in the hood. The poetry the author uses is extraordinary, but without making the spoken words cheesy or out of place. The main character describes everything around him, his sense of isolation, the flow of life around him, all these things with such accuracy that it's impossible not to relate to him even though I've lived in an upper middle class neighborhood my entire life.

Maybe the most interesting thing (at least to me, the nerdy English major) is that the entire story takes place in about two weeks. It's not a conventional novel about drug abuse, there's no story of spiraling down, getting caught, trying to pick yourself back up. You only hear about that secondhand from his girlfriend, and again in a very poetic way. Instantly you get this sense of time flying by, of being out of control as things rush past and you racing to figure out how to deal with everything that's happening. I loved it.
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