Picks and Pans Review: True Notebooks

updated 10/13/2003 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 10/13/2003 AT 01:00 AM EDT

By Mark Salzman

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This book will open your eyes to our brutal system of juvenile justice and leave you heartbroken. That is what two years teaching writing at Los Angeles' Central Juvenile Hall did to author Mark Salzman. He recounts his time among the "high-risk offenders" with compelling candor. By the end of the book all of Salzman's students have been shipped to adult prison to serve from 30 years to life. Without downplaying the brutality of their crimes—nearly all gun-and gang-related—Salzman still manages to create a true sense of outrage about their treatment and the lackadaisical legal representation they receive. "Weeks later, you will find yourself wondering about the stunted, hopeless men these kids may become.

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