Max B.’s Letter Essay #4: Lockdown

Recently, I finished Lockdown by Walter Dean Myers. It is a 247 page realistic fiction novel. It was published in 2010. Walter Dean Myers is an accomplished writer and has been writing since 1968. He was born in 1937. He died in 2014, at age 77. Mr. Myers writes almost solely about the black community. He has written over 100 books, almost all of them being about black lives.


I chose to read this story because my dear friend John Loo was reading Lockdown, so he recommended the novel to me. I had not read any books by Walter Dean, so I decided to read the book myself. When I saw the cover with the handcuffs, I was intrigued. It looked very interesting, so I decided to read it.


In Lockdown, 14 year old Maurice Anderson, is sent to Progress, a juvenile correctional facility. He was sent there because he stole prescription pads from a pharmacy. He was also framed for distributing them which lead to the death of a drug addict. The story takes place at the Progress with Maurice and his inmates. These inmates consist of Play, Diego, Cobo, and Toon. Diego and Cobo are the bullies of the Progress, and they target Toon, the younger, more frail inmate. Since maurice is the most civilized and trusted of the inmates, he gets a job at Evergreen, a retirement home for elderly white people. Maurice is assigned to an old man named Mr. Hooft. Mr. Hooft, being 80 years old, is accustomed to racism and prejudice towards black people, such as Maurice. The two have a rocky start to their relationship; with Mr. Hooft telling Maurice to sit in the corner and clean his room. But as the story goes on, the two warm up to each other, exchanging stories about being in captivity. During World War I, Mr. Hooft was a teenager and was captured by the Japanese and put in a camp. Maurice then told Mr. Hooft what it’s like to be in the Progress. Mr. Hooft and Maurice became good friends. Back at the Program, Maurice is getting into more and more fights, and Mr. Cintron is threatening to not let him go to Evergreen anymore. He is in detention for 3 days. Later, Maurice’s jail time is coming to an end. But, he gets a call from the Police Department. He has been charged with stealing more drugs. He didn’t do it, but the police believe he did. You’ll have to read the rest of the story to find out how he does.


One thing I really liked was how Walter Dean Myers added Mr. Hooft into the story. It gives a new perspective adding an elderly white man in the story because stereotypically, the man would have had a normal life with no hiccups, but that wasn’t the case. He actually could connect to Maurice, even though they are polar opposites. I liked how Walter Dean Myers was able to connect the two in a unique way.


I was very surprised about how young Maurice was when he committed his crime. He was fourteen; the same age I am. I cannot imagine being in his position; stealing drugs, living in the hood, going to prison. It is crazy. When I saw how old Maurice was, I was astonished. It almost didn’t seem fair that someone so young could get dragged into something so important.


One thing I noticed was that Walter Dean used flashbacks a numerous amount of times in the story. He assume he used them for effect and to help the reader comprehend the story more. When Mr. Hooft has flashbacks of being in the Japanese camp, it really brings out the connection him and Maurice have. Also, when Maurice has a flashback of the night he committed the crime, it gives a detailed description of the event; bettering the reader’s understanding of how Maurice did what he did.


One passage I thought was interesting was near the middle of the story. Right now, Maurice has just gotten into another fight and is in detention.

“I’m glad I’m in detention. In detention, you are all by yourself and nobody can see how bad you feel. Sometimes I think that people in the outside world know how bad you feel. They know it, but then they pass it off by just giving you a label, like criminal or felon.” pg. 147-148.

I thought this was interesting because it gives an interesting perspective. Maurice gives the reader insight into the mind of a juvenile delinquent. He obviously thinks differently than most teenagers, because of the situation he’s in. What he finds pleasing is without a doubt different than a normal adolescent. That is way I found this passage interesting. All in all, I enjoyed this story. It was very interesting. I rate it a 7 out of 10.


Max Baer

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2 thoughts on “Max B.’s Letter Essay #4: Lockdown

  1. Max,

    You made me want to read this book. I really liked how you described the story. The characters (especially Toon who sound like a wimp). I will look for this book. I have only one suggestion. It is that maybe next time, describe some of the characters’ pasts (if you know them from the book). It would give me bacgroung info on them.


  2. Max, I really like this letter essay. I liked how you described Progress and how he got in. One think to think about is describing the passage of writing in the quote instead of explaining what the quote means.


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