Cover image for The Beast
The Beast
Myers, Walter Dean, 1937-2014.
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Scholastic, [2003]

Physical Description:
170 pages ; 22 cm
A visit to his Harlem neighborhood and the discovery that the girl he loves is using drugs give sixteen-year-old Anthony Witherspoon a new perspective both on his home and on his life at a Connecticut prep school.
Reading Level:
680 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 4.7 5.0 76347.

Reading Counts RC High School 5.7 10 Quiz: 33882 Guided reading level: U.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Central Library Y FICTION Young Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks
Central Library Y FICTION Young Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks
Clearfield Library X Young Adult Fiction Young Adult
Concord Library X Young Adult Fiction Young Adult
Eggertsville-Snyder Library X Young Adult Fiction Young Adult
Frank E. Merriweather Library Y FICTION Young Adult Fiction Young Adult
Collins Library X Young Adult Fiction Young Adult

On Order



One of today's premier novelists brings his fiction back to Scholastic Press with a powerful and haunting love story.

17-yr-old Anthony "Spoon" Witherspoon is returning to Harlem after seven months at an exclusive prep school. It's with mixed feelings that he's left New York City in the first place to finish high school in the hallowed halls of the mostly white, very preppy New England school -- but now that Spoon is back home, he realizes how much he's come to like his prep-school life and new friends. He's missed his girlfriend, though, and is shocked to discover upon his return that the bright young poet she was when he left has become a drug addict.

Author Notes

Walter Dean Myers was born on August 12, 1937 in Martinsberg, West Virginia. When he was three years old, his mother died and his father sent him to live with Herbert and Florence Dean in Harlem, New York. He began writing stories while in his teens. He dropped out of high school and enlisted in the Army at the age of 17. After completing his army service, he took a construction job and continued to write.

He entered and won a 1969 contest sponsored by the Council on Interracial Books for Children, which led to the publication of his first book, Where Does the Day Go? During his lifetime, he wrote more than 100 fiction and nonfiction books for children and young adults. His works include Fallen Angels, Bad Boy, Darius and Twig, Scorpions, Lockdown, Sunrise Over Fallujah, Invasion, Juba!, and On a Clear Day. He also collaborated with his son Christopher, an artist, on a number of picture books for young readers including We Are America: A Tribute from the Heart and Harlem, which received a Caldecott Honor Award, as well as the teen novel Autobiography of My Dead Brother.

He was the winner of the first-ever Michael L. Printz Award for Monster, the first recipient of the Coretta Scott King-Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement, and a recipient of the Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement in writing for young adults. He also won the Coretta Scott King Award for African American authors five times. He died on July 1, 2014, following a brief illness, at the age of 76.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

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 2003 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Myers (Monster) sketches a provocative picture of an intelligent, likable 16-year-old straddling two worlds: his neighborhood on 145th Street in Harlem and the privileged world of Wallingford, the boarding school where he is spending his senior year. Anthony Witherspoon (or Spoon, as his friends call him) comes from a loving home and has an aspiring-poet girlfriend, Gabi-introduced in the opening chapter, as Spoon departs for Wallingford. In the next chapter, Spoon and his fellow students make plans to return home for Christmas break, and it quickly becomes clear that Chanelle, an Upper East Side New Yorker, fancies him. In a first-person account, Spoon describes the myriad ways things have changed in the three months that he's been away. A close friend has dropped out of school, Gabi's younger brother has been "gang banging" (trying to get into a gang) and Spoon finds a hypodermic needle on Gabi's dresser. Readers glimpse Spoon's complex universe as he enters a drug den to retrieve Gabi and gets snubbed by Chanelle's doorman when he arrives at her home for a party. Such scenes are tantalizing, yet the ideas introduced seem only partially developed (the chapter about finding the drug den is titled "the labyrinth," and implies that addiction is "the beast," yet Spoon refers to his purposeless childhood buddies in a similar fashion: "They seem as if they're wandering around in some monster maze"). Readers will recognize that Spoon's surroundings have changed but may be left to wonder how those changes have affected him. Ages 14-up. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 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 (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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