The Beast

( 14 )


An exciting, eye-catching repackage of acclaimed author Walter Dean Myers' bestselling paperbacks, to coincide with the publication of SUNRISE OVER FALLUJA in hardcover.

Seventen-year-old Anthony "Spoon" Witherspoon is returning to Harlem after seven months at an exclusive prep school. He never wanted to leave the city in the first place--especially not to walk the hallowed halls of a mostly white New England school. But now that Spoon is back home, he realizes how much he's ...

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An exciting, eye-catching repackage of acclaimed author Walter Dean Myers' bestselling paperbacks, to coincide with the publication of SUNRISE OVER FALLUJA in hardcover.

Seventen-year-old Anthony "Spoon" Witherspoon is returning to Harlem after seven months at an exclusive prep school. He never wanted to leave the city in the first place--especially not to walk the hallowed halls of a mostly white New England school. But now that Spoon is back home, he realizes how much he's come to rely on his prep-school friends and routine. And the one thing he's looking forward to most--seeing his girlfriend, Gabi--brings him the greatest shock. When he left, Gabi was a vibrant young poet. Now she's a thin, wasted drug addict. Can Spoon help her find her way again?

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.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Anthony "Spoon" Witherspoon has grown up in Harlem, but now he's spending his senior year of high school at a mostly white prep school in Connecticut. A new world is opening up to him, but he misses his old girlfriend Gabi very much, and when he returns to New York at Christmas time after many months away he goes to see her immediately. He finds her much changed from the bright, eager young poet he left behind. Gabi has lost hope, worn down by caring for a fatally ill mother, an elderly grandfather, and her younger brother, who's hanging out with gangs; in fact, Gabi is now addicted to drugs, and Spoon must help her to get help. In this poignant tale about dreams, about longing and belonging, Spoon is on the cusp of a new life but still feels ties to the old one. He starts to see his Harlem community in a new way as he thinks of going to college; and even more important, he comes to understand the importance of having dreams, and working to fulfill them. The overall mood is sad and haunting, as Spoon struggles to assist Gabi and come to terms with the changes in himself, but as always Myers' writing is direct, affecting and conveys a heartfelt message. KLIATT Codes: JS; Recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2003, Scholastic, 176p.,
— Paula Rohrlick
Sixteen-year-old Anthony "Spoon" Witherspoon seizes an opportunity to leave Harlem and enroll at Wallingford Academy, an elite suburban prep school. The security of Wallingford allows Anthony to escape the drugs, violence, and despair of the streets, but he also leaves behind Gabi, a girl he loves who is from the Dominican Republic. At the New England school, he discovers that the few African American girls do not want to be "anywhere near another black person," and the competitive atmosphere makes achievement a top priority. Returning home during the Christmas holidays, Spoon sees that the "Beast," the street life, is devouring his friends from the 'hood. Gabi's brother runs with a gang, Spoon's best friend has dropped out of school, and his exposure to the white world of Wallingford now has him out of step with the street's rhythm. Stunned by changes in Gabi, who has lost weight and seems distant, Spoon soon learns that she is using heroin, but in her words, "only skin surfing." Falling into heavier use upon her mother's death, Gabi disappears into a drug house, as Spoon desperately scours the neighborhood, determined to pry her from the Beast's grasp. Avoiding street slang and profanity, Myers deftly contrasts Anthony's Wallingford life and Spoon's return to the hopelessness of Harlem's streets without becoming didactic. The theme of inner-city teens struggling to succeed without abandoning their cultural background is neatly woven throughout the story. The author's name and the intriguing title will attract junior high readers. VOYA Codes: 4Q 4P M J (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High,defined as grades 7 to 9). 2003, Scholastic, 170p,
— Rollie Welch
From The Critics
When Anthony "Spoon" Witherspoon comes home to Harlem from Wallingford Academy, he finds himself caught between two very different worlds, and he doesn't really feel like he belongs in either. Things are different for him in Harlem. People seem to have changed, and their reaction to him has changed. His best friend has dropped out of school, and a prim and proper classmate from "the Ave," Clara, is pregnant. His girlfriend, Gabi, is acting strangely. Her mother is sick, and her little brother, Rafe, is running with gang-bangers. Spoon doesn't understand why she is keeping him at a distance until he catches her in a daze with a hypodermic needle at her bedside. On the other side of his dual existence, Spoon's well-to-do friend from Wallingford Academy, Chanelle, makes it known that she wants to be more than just friends. Spoon struggles to find an identity that works in Harlem and at Wallingford. The Beast is an excellent novel about difficult issues, including race, drugs, and the juxtaposition of poverty and affluence; however, Walter Dean Myers resists the temptation to preach or provide simple answers to complicated problems. 2003, Scholastic Press, 170 pp., Ages young adult.
—Ray Castle
Children's Literature
Anthony Whitherspoon, a.k.a. "Spoon," an intelligent seventeen-year-old raised on the streets of Harlem, leaves the streets during his last year of high school to attend Wallingford Academy in Connecticut in an effort to achieve his goal of entering an Ivy League school. Leaving his girlfriend, Gabi, he journeys towards a brighter future. Spoon's story is one of an African-American boy struggling to step outside the norm and better himself. Life at the academy makes him aware of how the Harlem way of life is different. He begins to struggle with the fact that he and Gabi are not as close as they once were as he realizes his new feelings for Chanelle. When Spoon returns home for Christmas, the world he had known is no longer the way he remembered; he no longer feels part of the place he once called home. He feels as though he is a stranger in a new place forgetting the ways of survival on the streets. Gabi, the once-aspiring poet, has fallen under the control of drugs. Spoon must come to grips with the beast of drug abuse, the choice between Chanelle and Gabi, the death of Gabi's mother, and the reality of street life in Harlem. The struggles that Spoon faces throughout the novel correspond to the many issues that other young adults face. 2003, Scholastic Press, Ages 14 up.
—Joseph H. Israel
School Library Journal
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 Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Journeys are hard, and often there are beasts to face along the way. It's a theme repeated many times in Myers's story of Anthony Witherspoon, 17, home in Harlem after his first term at an exclusive New England boarding school. Ambivalent about leaving in the first place, now he feels as if his old neighborhood has already changed, or he has changed, or maybe he is already seeing things as an outsider. His girlfriend Gabi has become a drug addict and other friends seem lost or trapped. Harlem street life seems like a labyrinth, a monster maze, with beasts ready to snatch you up for making a wrong turn. Allusions to demons, Herod killing babies, the Black Plague, saints who sometimes fail you, and beasts who sometimes comfort lend a mythic air to a realistic story that offers no easy answers. If there are no magicians waving helpful wands, at least there's the possibility of hope, promise, and belief "in a heart that sees beauty and a soul that prays for love." (Fiction. YA)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780439368421
  • Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 5/1/2005
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 192
  • Sales rank: 256,312
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.34 (w) x 7.96 (h) x 0.39 (d)

Meet the Author

Walter Dean Myers is the 2012 - 2013 National Ambassador for Young People's Literature. He is the critically acclaimed New York Times bestselling author an award-winning body of work which includes, SOMEWHERE IN THE DARKNESS, SLAM!, and MONSTER. Mr. Myers has received two Newbery Honor medals, five Coretta Scott King Author Awards, and three National Book Award Finalists citations. In addition, he is the winner of the first Michael L. Printz Award. He lives in Jersey City, New Jersey.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 14 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 14 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 8, 2012

    Really great book some can relate to

    Walter Dean Myers never ceases to amaze me in any of his book weather it’s from writing “Somewhere In the Darkness” or “Dope Sick”, but to me my favorite book of his was The Beast. In The Beast he shows this fictional young adult character who was raised up in the Streets of Harlem. His name is Anthony Witherspoon, at around the age of 17, still in school, his decide to take him to a special academy in Connecticut, which in this readers opinion would be nice. He has to finish his last year of high school in this sleep away academy, leaving behind his family, his girlfriend, and the neighborhood he once thought he knew.
    Few months pass by and most of the time he’s there at the academy he’s thinking of what to write to his girlfriend, which to me would be the right thing to do, but he can’t write down or express the love he has towards her on paper, which is so cute and sweet. He visit his neighborhood for Christmas vacation, only to realize that his whole perspective towards almost everything that he thought he knew, and this is where to me the story starts to get interesting. He also finds out that his own girlfriend was sleeping at night with a hypodermic needle on her night stand, so shocked that he realizes that he MUST help her, like any good friend would do. So his family starts to feel neglected that hes’ only spending time with her and not them.
    In all reality I absolutely love this book and I would recommend it to anyone who would be interested in a juvenile fictional book, unless it’s a Walter Dean Myer book it would never be the same, the way he shows us something about our own selves that some of us are unfortunate to ever experience through literature. In the words of himself “ dreams and love, however fragile, mean everything when you are fighting the Beast” to me those words are words to live by, and it’s a great privilege to be able to read one of his books. I hope I can get a chance to read another of this wonderful authors’ book

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  • Posted March 24, 2011

    Highly Recommended!

    Myers' use of strong imagery, as always, is phenomenal in this novel. While reading, you can't help but empathize with the characters' situations. Myers creates a setting in this novel that leaves you fully grasping the melancholy but inspiring tone. "The Beast" is a must read for all book-lovers who have overcome perplexing life challenges or are just up for a great read.

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  • Posted November 8, 2010

    Highly recommended- great twist to the book!

    "The beast" by Walter dean Myers is about a boy named Anthony "Spoon" Witherspoon who has a girlfriend and his life changes because he goes to a prep school. After staying 7 months at this prep school he goes back to Harlem to see his girlfriend Gabi but Anthony finds out that Gabi is a thin girl and a drug addict. "Spoon" wants to help her find her way back to a normal life. The major Message was that Anthony was trying to show love to his girl and how life is fine without her mom who died. The part i liked in the book was how spoon decided to help out Gabi instead of going back to school and stay with his new friends. The part i didn't like was the ending because it ended to fast. First he took her to rehab but after it seemed everything was good after that. People who are in a relationship would maybe like to read this book because it is about love in a relationship. Overall i would give this book a 3.5 out of 5 because it has a good plot to it, but it was too much about love. I recommend the book if you like the book going into the past and going back into present time. Anthony deals with Gabi like a man should because he cares more about his girl than going to a smart school. Another thing i liked was how he only cared about her. Gabi's mom died and she got more into drugs, but after that she got help from Anthony which was the main conflict in the book. Overall this was a good book and Walter Dean Myers is a good writer who likes to write about violence. The beast is a good read for the ages 14 and up.

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  • Posted April 15, 2009

    "The Beast" Gets Two Thumbs Up!

    "The Beast" by Walter Dean Myers is story of a young seventeen year old boy who faces everyday life conflicts with a few non ordinary challenged to go along. The main character, Spoon, is in a relationship with his girlfriend Gabi in Harlem, New York. Unfortunately Spoon has to leave New York to enter a prep school. Spoon has to drop everything and leave, causing separation between him and his close family and friends in Harlem. While at the prep school Spoon feels out of place and questions himself. Only to return to more drama. Spoon of course feels left out once returning after many months of being away. He has to come into terms with some of the most devastating events to happen in his love life with Gabi. He is then faced with a thrilling decision to help save her. "The Beast " is a heartfelt book containing drama, but within realistic events. It's pretty easy to relate and is a "Crank" or "Speak" of its time. It's a good read for young adults.

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  • Posted February 17, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    The is a very good book

    I like this book beacuse i thought i could really con. With this book. The only bad thing about this bookk is that i am a boy and i really dont like to have a ot of romance in what i am reading. I would suggest this book beacuse i think everyone can get really into it. I hope you will rate my review.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 7, 2007

    A reviewer

    The message based on the book ¿The Beast¿ is that to have faith in people. This is so important in a friendship because in a friendship there should always be hope trust and most important faith in your friends. For example Anthony Weatherspoon had faith in his girlfriend Gaby and pushed her to stop her negative habits in to good habits. I would recommend this book to people because it is important for people to know what are things to do in a friendship like to have faith trust n honesty in a friendship.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 8, 2007


    the beast is a interesting book to me because it has alot to do with relationships between a boy and a girl.I think that the author who wrote this was inspired by a relatioship she once had.The sad thing was that they had to seperate because of the school situation.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 18, 2006


    this was a good book had a lot of things going on

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 1, 2006

    One of the best book I have read in a while

    Mr. Myers writes in a form that makes you feel part of the stories. What makes his writting unique is that the stories are easy. To realate to. THis is my first book I read from this author,now a fan forever.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 14, 2005

    good book for high school students

    The book the beast was an exciting book with many surprises and twists. It shows the life of students going through troubling times. It has changes in almost every chapter in places and people. It shows how things can be different and change in a matter of time. Its easy for students to relate to this book and to connect with because of the problems Spoon are sometimes very similar to real life problems. People who read this book will be left in suspense and will have alot of trouble putting this book down. This book is sometimes funny and sometimes sad. It shows people that their life is not as bad as they think.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 2, 2004


    this book was the best book I have read. I really admire Walter Dean Myers. He has done a great job with his writing skills. He is a good writer for us young adults.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 29, 2004

    The Beast

    I love Walter Dean Myers and I truly admire his writing, but this book seemed to repeat some things over and over again. I was a little dissappointed the first time I read it and felt a little weird that the main character would be kissing another girl while he had a g/f but all in all I think it was pretty good, not his best, but pretty good.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 17, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 11, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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