A Book Review about Sanyika Shakur's "Monster. An Autobiography of an L.A. Gang Member"

Essay, 2018

7 Pages


Monster - An Autobiography of an L.A. Gang Member


The life of every society changes from time to time. These facts are real, particularly in the United States (U.S.). In 1993, a new trend of gang life began to emerge along the streets in the U.S. The book Shakur Sanyika’s Monster was the first one to provide an account of this lifestyle. The author of the book raised some concerns regarding criminal justice by revealing the acts of violence and sensationalist. Thus, this paper aims to review the book, with its significant sections including summary, significant themes in the book, strengths, and weaknesses of the text and context of the book.

Summary of the Book

The Autobiography of an L.A. Gang Member is a story that narrates how Kody Scott joined and left the gang life. Kody grew up in a region that was full of vehemence, wretchedness, and gang. He came from a single parent family, and his mother was not in a position to provide for his needs efficiently. As a result, his life was full of struggles for survival between the 1960s and 1970s (Saunders, 2014). Since experience in Los Angles was all about becoming a gangster, Kody faced a lot of pressure to join the gang life. Upon turning eleven years, he decided to join a gang and began his ghetto life. His primary motivation to participate in the ghetto life was the respect that its members received. He was determined to remain a committed member of the ghetto life for thirteen years. During this period, he was part of the Eight Tray Gangsters. He led a life of shootouts in shops, residential areas, streets, and took part in kidnappings, car-jacks, robbery, killing friends and enemies among other sorts of illegal activities. With time, Kody realized that he caused problems to the African race and society. As a result, he purposed to quit thug life.

Kody goes through a transformation from a young boy to Monster Kody and then to Sanyika Shakur. Jail life helped to transform his character. For instance, he joined the Muslim group where he gained his new identity as a black nationalist. The many obstacles that Sanyika Shakur overcomes in his life transformed him to become a real survivor. He later managed to move into a world of peace.



The dominant theme identified in this book is violence. From the definition of violence that the author provides, it refers to a structural arrangement or action that leads to bodily or emotional injury to the victims. The book: The Autobiography of an L.A. Gang Member reveals different incidences of violence, which are notably motivated by drug abuse. A good example is when Kody kills his friends and enemies to gain money.


The theme of delinquency tries to provide a reason many young people from Los Angeles took part in the crime. For instance, the book attempts to enlighten why Kody engaged in offending acts. The social pressure that Kody had to go through in life exposes him to crime. Also, this theme shows how the eight-year-old Gray Gangster caused cold-blooded killings. Some of the crimes that were committed by this gang include jail rapes, riots in jail, a shootout in shops, houses, streets and many public places (Saunders, 2014). The name Monster Kody was a product of delinquent theme. For example, engagement in extreme crime activities made him acquire the title.


Religion is a theme that exists in this book though not depicted at the beginning of the book. However, towards the end of the book, this idea is evident. For example, while in jail, Kody became a Muslim convert. The ideologies of Muhammad transformed him, and as a result, he acquired the name Shakur Sanyika. After the jail life, he picked up the concept of Jihad and began the fight against racist oppression throughout his life (Saunders, 2014). Despite the fact that it took a lot of years to realize that he was doing wrong, the author of the book seems to depict the significance of religion to the society. As such, this theme has a strong influence on violence; hence, leads to a significant improvement of character.

Weaknesses and Strength

The most significant strength of this book is that it is written from a perspective of a person who spent thirteen years as a gangster. The writing attracts the reader's attention since it is written from experience with little imagination. Thus, this style helps to bring out a clear picture of the restive region in Los Angeles. Further, this technique gives a unique experience to the reader due to vivid imagery. Above all, the author reveals his close to death experience of surviving six shots, a method that brings out the reality of what it takes for one to be a thug.

There are some weaknesses in this book. One of the major flaws is that the author uses a lot of details to explore his family background. Consequently, it may lead to a wrong perception that the poor environment was the motivating factor that caused him to join the gang group. However, a more in-depth exploration of the book reveals that the nature of his family did not contribute to his aggressive behavior. The book is also biased regarding racial orientation. For instance, it displays the blacks as aggressive people who majorly rely on crime to fight racism.


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A Book Review about Sanyika Shakur's "Monster. An Autobiography of an L.A. Gang Member"
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Amos Wesonga (Author), 2018, A Book Review about Sanyika Shakur's "Monster. An Autobiography of an L.A. Gang Member", Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/429310


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