GENERAL OPINION: I love Walter Dean Myers, and with this book it seems that he has stepped outside of his comfort zone for this one. He usually writes in a casual, humorous way. However, this book is tense and dramatic. It is still a very enjoyable book. It is about 16 year-old Steve, who is black, and is on trial for the murder of a drug store owner. Throughout the book, Steve can't seem to come to a consensus with himself about his guilt/innocence. The whole book (except for Steve's journal) is written as a movie script, which I believe keeps it unbiased. The details are clear in the script, however the details that Steve provides in his journal about himself are murky. This book is a very good discussion starter, especially if you play "jury".
ABOUT THE RATING: I think 4 stars is a reasonable rating for this book. It was good, but nothing exceptional. I didn't feel that I was "involved" in the book. It was also predictable. I wouldn't imagine Walter Dean Myers having a negative ending for one of his books. Don't get me wrong though: this book deserves a place on your bookshelf.
ABOUT THE AGE RATING: I believe that this book doesn't convey a "great" message, but it does convey a message: and that is the reality of the American justice system, and how it mistreats minorities. This book is iffy for children under 12. Keep in mind the whole book is about a murder trial, and includes detailed descriptions of people dying, getting shot, stabbed, beat, and raped. There are also descriptions of blood that are graphic and somewhat disturbing. However, a young teen should be able to handle this book.