Abuse of Discretion: Pamela Samuels Young
Guilt due to the color of your skin or because people prejudge you by an action that you know that you did not commit. Graylin Alexander finds himself as the victim of someone’s either practical joke or an act to get attention. Sexting is serious and when he finds himself facing not only the Principal of the School but also two abusive police officers that strong arm him into talking with him about a photo that he supposedly put on Snapshot of Kennedy Carlyle. Things get out of hand quickly when his father shows up but even worse when the lawyers begin to picker it out and poor Graylin is placed in juvenile hall until his case comes up. No bail is allowed and he has to remain there with some unsavory characters. Teens and young readers will hopefully learn some valuable lessons about sexting and the result of posting these types of pictures that might take away any chance of them not serving time in prison. Saving the picture by taking a Screenshot is what started the entire series of events as Angela Evans and Jenny Ungerman join reluctant forces to define that intelligent and smart young man that will fight to the finish to exonerate himself.
There is a second plot that could prove to be deadly for Angela’s boyfriend Dre who is dealing with his own demons namely a man in prison named The Shepherd. Throughout the novel we hear is six voices: Graylin, Dre, Angela, Jenny, The Shepherd and Willie a friend of The Shepherd. Each voice loud and clear stating their viewpoints on their situation as the Shepherd is running is sex trafficking business and other enterprises from his jail cell with the help of one of the guards who managed to get him a cell phone and other perks. But, someone within the prison system wants him out and Dre learns that The Shepherd put out a contract on Angela and from that point on things heat up for him in prison and his safety and protection are gone.
As the evidence unfolds and the discovery comes available to Jenny and Angela the primary source of the criminal investigation is the picture but finding out who really took it would involve using a creative investigator named Mei, some quick thinking on the part of both Angela and Jenny and delving into the many friends that Graylin had in school. His best friend is a young boy named Crayvon that Graylin swears likes Kennedy but was constantly making fun of her. They also claim that Graylin was going to show the picture on his phone to him but never did. Graylin is adamant about his innocence and every step of the way he makes the decisions with the advice of his attorneys but when placed in juvenile detention and is attacked by some there and defends himself the charges escalate and the Assistant District Attorney, Sullivan turns up the heat full blast. Even the judges on this case seem bent on convicting this innocent young teen. With the support of his father and his Grandmother he seems to survive but then things change and are headed in a downward spiral. Author Pamela Samuels Young takes readers, teens and even attorneys inside the courtroom of several judges to find out just how biased the courts can be, sometimes prejudicial and the fact that Graylin is black seemed to work against him even though he’s an A student, polite, respectful and never in trouble before. Not even looking past his color to find out who in the school might have done it and the fact that the picture did not come from his phone but a anonymous Snapshot account should have forewarned the prosecution that maybe they needed to put their energies somewhere else.
When Graylin realizes from a friend inside that he might be better facing an adult conviction because then he can get bail he puts on an act that is worthy of an academy award and the judge places him in an adult facility where he can be freed on bail.
The Shepherd makes sure his friend Willie that we briefly get to know takes care of what he calls his project but things get tough when an inmate named Oaktown decides to take out his hostilities on The Shepherd, blackmails him and enlists the help of two guards to make sure that his message is heard. The guards in this prison are paid off and the end result of what happens to The Shepherd brings Angela into the mix and her loyalties challenged.
The officers take the stand and each one presents his thoughts but we know after being there when Graylin was questioned that one lied more than the other. Kennedy was in the courtroom and her mother was adamant about how terrible her daughter was being portrayed and treated yet you know that the father was hiding something, which would change it all when it comes out. Graylin and Crayvon were friends but somehow he switched sides along with several young girls that when questioned by Angela and Jenny said one thing and in court it was if the ADA convinced them to recreate their testimony to fit her agenda caring less for what happens to Graylin.
Mama Baker is quite colorful when both Angela and Jenny question her foster daughter and she at the end of the meeting takes them in hand, holds their heads, prays for them and recites: THE DEVIL IS A LIE! Added to that LaShay stated on thing to them and in court twisted it all, lied and then Mama Baker takes the stand and sets everyone straight. ADDING IN MAMA BAKER RAISE NO HEATHEN.
Dre Thomas presents a hard picture when he’s conflicted about what to do with The Shepherd, how to convince Angela to not spell out what his involvement and whether their relationship can weather another storm. He in my opinion was a minor character in this story as I feel Graylin stole the show with his intelligence, strong spirit and his refusal to allow the court and the judicial system try him as a juvenile, standing up for himself and not falling prey to the ADA’s plea bargain offer knowing that somehow someone else might set him up or try to set him up in the future and hoped that the jury would realize the truth.
When Jenny and Angela along with Mei figure out who sent the picture to Graylin, who took it and why, the DA would not drop the child pornography charge causing Graylin to take the biggest risk of all: the final verdict.
A trial that will anger readers, make some get up and cheer for Graylin, understand the frustration of the two lawyers and finding at times you wonder whether these judges are paying close attention or even care for the welfare of someone that is truly naïve at times and innocent. Believing in yourself, faith in your own truth, trust, betrayals, lies, murder, deceits and one young 14 year old teen named Graylin who will definitely endear you into your hearts and minds and hope that the final verdict will set him free. Some endings are new beginnings ,which will this be and who will pay the price for failure to take into proper consideration that facts and law relating to a particular matter. Sometimes there is an arbitrary of unreasonable department from precedent and settled judicial custom or in other words: ABUSE OF DISCRETION!
For those teens or young adults that use Snapshot, Instagram or any other social media that accepts posts that are inappropriate you need to read this book to learn what could happen to you. Do you want to be the next Graylin?
Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ magazine