Author: Pamela Samuels Young
Performed by R.C. Bray
Released: October 2017 by Goldman House Publishing
Category: Legal, Courtroom Drama, Suspense, Book Review, Audiobook
A Kid’s Curiosity … A Parent’s Nightmare
The award-winning author of “Anybody’s Daughter” is back with an addictive courtroom drama that gives readers a shocking look inside the juvenile criminal justice system.
This is an excellent legal thriller series. Angela Evans used to be an Assistant US Attorney, now she’s a criminal defence attorney. Her relationship with Andre Thomas, a reformed drug dealer, compromised her previous post and, although Dre promised to leave his criminal past behind him, the past hasn’t done with him yet.
Graylin Alexander, an exemplary fourteen year old, is summoned to the principal’s office one morning where two police officers are waiting for him. Graylin was sent a naked photograph of one of his classmates via Snapchat, which he saved to his phone. He is accused of child pornography, interrogated and intimidated by the officers, handcuffed and taken to Juvenile Hall. He and his father, Gus, are friends of Dre and Angela and Angela contacts Jenny Ungerman, an attorney with a stellar reputation, who agrees to represent Graylin. Angela and Jenny decide to collaborate on his case.
Of course, I’d planned to show the picture to my best friend, Crayvon, but you can’t go to jail for something you were only thinking about doing.
“If you have the picture on your phone,” Officer Fenton says, “just be truthful about it and we’ll see what we can do to keep you out of trouble.”
They must think I’m stupid. I do what my dad told me to do and keep my mouth shut.
Mean cop pounds the table with his fist, making me jump two inches out of my chair. “Where’s your phone?”
I still don’t answer. Everybody has the right to remain silent, even kids.
“I said where’s your phone?” Mean Cop repeats.
I hide my hands under the table, so he can’t see them shaking.
Each chapter come from the first person perspective of a specified character, which allows the reader, or listener, to connect with each one more thoroughly. Graylin’s predicament shows incredibly well how a small, thoughtless action can snowball and take on a life of its own. Dre too, is facing his own problems when he gets word a child trafficker he helped convict has, from his prison cell, put the word out he’s after Dre. There’s no two ways about it, Dre is going to protect those close to him, whatever it takes.
Graylin’s situation is a frighteningly realistic scenario as so many children have phones and social media accounts. Teenagers’ lives are very different today and this is a timely reminder of the negative aspects of their easy access to technology, which exposes them to all sorts of things that wouldn’t have been available years ago. It doesn’t make a difference to the prosecutors whether it’s unsuspecting childish curiosity or not. In the author’s note Pamela Samuels Young says it was a revealing conversation with another attorney which gave her the inspiration for this story, one she felt needed to be told, given the dire consequences and the number of teens and younger children falling foul of the child pornography laws in many US states.
Abuse of Discretion is a fast moving, tense and well written courtroom drama, made all the more so because it involves children who have no comprehension of the trouble they can bring upon themselves. The juvenile justice system is a minefield, the consequences of sexting are huge and can ruin young lives. Under certain circumstances, children can be tried in an adult court, which sometimes works to its own agenda and isn’t above being manipulated. The testimony of the child psychologist called as a witness in the story could actually contain very useful information for parents.
There are lighter moments to contrast with the gravity of the story line in the form of Mama Baker, who ‘don’t raise no heathens.’ Her appearances, especially in court, are priceless. The conclusion to both threads, especially Graylin’s, was totally unexpected. Definitely an eye opener with an important message running through a gripping narrative.
R.C. Bray was a great choice for this series, the narration is spot on and brings the cast of diverse characters to life.