Saturday, October 10, 2009

Riot by Walter Dean Myers

Abstract: In 1863, fifteen-year-old Claire, the daughter of an Irish mother and a black father, faces ugly truths and great danger when Irish immigrants, enraged by the Civil War and a federal draft, lash out against blacks and wealthy "swells" of New York City.

Publisher: Egmont, 164 pages

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Riot tells the story of how the 1863 draft riots--when the angry Irish poor lashed out at wealthy "swells" who were buying their way out of the draft and black who were seen as stealers of Irish-American jobs--affected Claire, the daughter of an African-American father and Irish mother.

Myers tells the story in screenplay form as he did in Monster, but here the form is less effective. There are many characters and none of them is particularly well-developed, even Claire and her parents.

The novel is short at about 150 pages and the plot is confusing since explanation and backstory are given in the characters' dialogue. This makes the dialogue sometimes sound a bit stilted.

Overall, the book is not as moving as Day of Tears by Lester, which is also written in an unconventional format or Myers' Monster.

I wish Myers had written the story in a plainer style, like his wonderful novel The Glory Field, because the events that inspired the novel and the interesting characters he created deserve a more developed story. Even a short straightforward narrative, like Paulsen's Nightjohn, might have worked better for this material.

I don't think this one will be a strong CSK contender, esp. in a field containing Magoon's The Rock and The River but maybe I'm totally wrong.

Did anyone else read and love this one?