Book review and analysis of Monster: The Autobiography of an L.A. Gang Member
In 1993, a new trend of gang life began to emerge along the streets in the United States. The first accounts of this lifestyle are revealed in the Book, Monster written by Sanyika Shakur.
This article seeks to reveal the authors’ viewpoint, the major theme in the book, the strength, and weaknesses of the book as well as its understanding.
NOTE: Before transforming his name to Sanyika Shakur, he was born Kody Dejohn Scott.
Summary of the Book
Monster: an Autobiography of an L.A. Gang by Sanyika Shakur is a story that narrates how Kody Scott joined and left the gang life. As depicted in the book, Scott grew up in an area characterized by violence, misery, and gang culture. He was raised by her mother.
Kody was born in November 1963 in south-central Los Angeles where gangster life had taken center stage. At his young age, Kody had two choices to make. Either join the gang life in pursuit of fame and power or live a life devoid of fame and respect. He chose to join.
Kody remained in the gang life for thirteen years as part of the Eight Tray Gangsters. In the thirteen years, he led the life of shootouts in shops, houses, streets, drive-buys, kidnappings, car-jacks, robbery, killing friends as well as enemies, knife fights, selling drugs, and police abuse among many other inhuman and illegal activities. As time and years went by, he ultimately discovered that thug life was not meant for him. He decided to quit.
Kody went through a transformation from a young boy to Monster Kody and then to Sanyika Shakur. While in jail he joins the Muslim group where he gains his new identity as a Black Nationalist.
The obstacles that Sanyika Shakur overcomes in life make him a true survivor.
The first and obvious theme in the book is violence. Violence is a structural arrangement or action that leads to physical or nonphysical injury to the victims. The book Monster: an Autobiography of an L.A. Gang reveals various incidences of violence attributed to drug abuse. For example, Kody shares an incident where he killed his friends for financial gain.
While in jail Kody is converted to a Muslim by Muhammad and changes his name to Shakur Sanyika. Here he picks the jihad concept of ‘struggle till death’ to fight the oppressors. Although it took longer to realize that he was doing wrong, the author seems to be illuminating the significance of religion to society. The perception that is picked from this theme is that religion plays a big role in ending or escalating violent behaviors.
Strength of the book
The strength of this book is that it is written from the first point of view. Therefore, unlike many books of violence which are written from a third or second point of view, Sanyika Shakur’s book attracts the readers’ attention because it is written from a personal experience with less imagination.
Weakness of the Book
One of the weaknesses of Sanyika Shakur’s book is that the author talks more about his poor background or family. In the first chapter of the book, the author focuses more on explaining his poor background which may bring about the perception that his background contributed to his decision of joining the gang group. However, from an analysis of the books’ text, his family did not contribute a lot to his aggressive behavior.
For instance, Kody says that he joined the gang group because it offered him stability and the opportunity to develop in power. He also says that from the time he was accepted to the Crips, he lost his innocence. He began to do extraordinary things that he did not imagine a boy of his age could do. By the time he turned sixteen, his reputation had grown which made him acquire the nickname Monster.
Therefore, it should be that the urge to gain reputation is all that inspired him to join the gang life, not his poor upbringing.
In conclusion, Sanyika Shakur’s book advises the youths to seek stability and acceptance in a fragmented society. The book also reveals how a gang culture can destroy a society.