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No Choirboy: Murder, Violence, and Teenagers on Death Row

by Susan Kuklin

Published by Henry Holt, 2008
212 pages
ISBN: 9780805079500

Age 14 and older

After a brief italicized paragraph giving context to the crime, the first chapter in this powerful work opens with the frank and immediate voice of an adolescent sentenced to death. Told in passages from the present as well as in flashbacks, three young men offer raw insight on their life behind bars and tales from their individual experiences in judicial systems that support capital punishment. Author Susan Kuklin provides the framework for this emotionally and politically charged book, but the bulk of the content comes directly from her interviewees. Now past their teenage years, the inmates reflect on their crimes, their sentences, and the punishments to body and mind incurred in prison. In addition to chapters on these three, Kuklin also includes the perspectives of persons outside of prison through interviews with family members. The first dialogue comes from a young man whose older brother was given the death sentence, and the impact it has had on his life. The second dialogue tells the story of two siblings whose young lives have been shaped by the grief stemming from the death of their brother, whose murderer is in prison for life without parole. The final chapter gives testimony from the lawyer for two of the prisoners, offering a legal vantage on their lives and their crimes. This compelling and unforgettable volume is a discussion piece for a range of concrete subjects—violent acts, the U.S. legal system, capital punishment, human rights—as well as philosophical concepts of self-worth, redemption, and forgiveness.  © Cooperative Children's Book Center

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