Good Behavior by Nathan L Henry

I'm never really sure what to think about crime memoirs targeted to teen audiences. I've always been under the impression that they set out to teach a lesson, to make it clear that Crime Does Not Pay. This one tells you that, but it's more roundabout, no cramming morals down your throat.

Henry grew up in a tiny town in the Midwest in a rough family. His father was an alcoholic gun nut and his mother couldn't make up for that, so Henry and his brother could pretty much do whatever he liked. This, of course, created a situation where he found himself in bigger and bigger trouble until he found himself in jail for armed robbery, all by the time he's 16.

The story is told in alternating chapters, switching between the beginning of his time in jail and his life leading up to his arrest. He details his crimes, his interest in Satanism, his torture of small animals and the thrill he experienced when commit violent acts.

Once in jail, things change for him. While he doesn't go into that much detail about his feelings in jail, he does discuss his fear of turning out like the career criminals he meets and other terrifying or just plain crazy inmates whose lives revolve around going in and out of prison.

I liked this book for that very reason. I think that Henry told the story without glamour, got the point across that in his experience crime would lead nowhere, all without having to preach. He told the story straight. That said, I'm a bit confused. While he did preface the book with the usual warning of "some details have been changed", the one part that made no sense was the epilogue. I was confused, was it a memoir or a novelization of his life. I don't need my memoirs to be gospel truth, but I'm just confused as to whether the epilogue was real or not.

There is a lot of swearing in this book, and some frank discussion and depiction of sex and violence, but that's perfectly reasonable given the context. Nothing here is gratuitous, and it serves to emphasize the point he's making. Crime ain't pretty.
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