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Author of AGAINST A DARKENING SKY, THE EMPTY ROOM, OUR DAILY BREAD, and others. Find out more at www.LaurenBDavis.com. I read as if my sanity depended upon it.. . . oh, wait, it does! Snort.

True Notebooks: A Writer's Year at Juvenile Hall

True Notebooks: A Writer's Year at Juvenile Hall - Mark Salzman I like Mark Salzman, and liked his novel LYING AWAKE very much. This book is a memoir of the year he spent teaching creative writing in a juvenile detention center. He is candid and honest about his fears and concerns going into the project, and watching his prejudices melt away is quite fascinating, as the reader can't help be identify with the emotional ride. Where the book is less strong, in my opinion, is in the writing from the actual students, which takes up probably a third of the book. I understand Salzman wanting to 1) give these boys a voice and 2) reveal something of the boys' interior landscapes. The problem is the writing is repetitious after a while, and since it isn't very good (although some does have undeniable impact) it begins to feel tedious. Salzman's portraits of the boys themselves, as well as those of a fiercely activist nun, and several surprisingly sympathetic staff members, is much more rewarding, and poignant.