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True Notebooks Book Review Summary

Detailed Plot Synopsis of True Notebooks

When author Mark Salzman is half-cajoled, half-tricked into leading a creative writing course at a Los Angeles' Central Juvenile Hall, a prison for the city's most violent teenage offenders, he is full of apprehensions. Initially, he feels little sympathy for gangsters and criminals, and is not sure what he, as a successful white man from Connecticut, can say to connect with a group of boys from the LA ghettos.
His class begins with a group of four boys, but soon grows to almost unmanageable numbers; every student wants to bring along a friend or cellmate who is interested in writing. With simple prompts from Mark, the inmates write about their life experiences, thoughts, and fears through memoir, fiction, and poetry (excerpts of their work is quoted at length). Even though he knows that most of his students have been accused of murder and may spend the next few decades in prison, Mark finds many reasons to persevere. He grows to understand and care about the boys in his workshop, even to the point of attending a trial and offering to serve as a character witness.
This report prepared by Jacqueline West








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Chapter Analysis of True Notebooks

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Plot & Themes

Kids growing up/acting up?    -   Yes Kids:    -   committing crimes Which institution    -   prison Life in an institution    -   Yes Period of greatest activity?    -   1950+

Subject of Biography

Gender    -   Male Profession/status:    -   writer Ethnicity    -   White Nationality    -   American

Setting

How much descriptions of surroundings?    -   5 () United States    -   Yes The US:    -   California Misc setting    -   prison Century:    -   1980's-Present

Writing Style

Book makes you feel?    -   concerned    -   like laughing Graphic sex in book?    -   Yes Pictures/Illustrations?    -   None How much dialogue in bio?    -   roughly even amounts of descript and dialog How much of bio focuses on most famous period of life?    -   26-50% of book

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Mark Salzman Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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