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Download True Notebooks: A Writer's Year at Juvenile Hall Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample True Notebooks: A Writers Year at Juvenile Hall Audiobook, by Mark Salzman Click for printable size audiobook cover
4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (1,243 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Mark Salzman Narrator: J. Paul Boehmer, Paul Boehmer Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: June 2003 ISBN: 9780736698856
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When Mark Salzman is invited to visit a writing class at Central Juvenile Hall, a lockup for Los Angeles’s most violent teenage offenders, he scrambles for a polite reason to decline. He goes—expecting the worst—and is so astonished by what he finds that he becomes a teacher there himself. True Notebooks is an account of Salzman’s first years teaching at Central. Through it, we come to know his students as he did: in their own words.

At times impossible and at times irresistible, they write with devastating clarity about their pasts, their fears, their confusions, their regrets, and their hopes. They write about what led them to crime and to gangs, about love for their mothers and anger toward their (mostly absent) fathers, about guilt for the pain they have caused, and about what it is like to be facing life in prison at the age of seventeen. Most of all, they write about trying to find some reason to believe in themselves—and others—in spite of all that has gone wrong.

Surprising, charming, upsetting, enlightening, and ultimately hopeful—driven by the insight and humor of Salzman’s voice and by the intelligence, candor, and strength of his students, whose writing appears throughout the book—True Notebooks is itself a reward of the self-expression Mark Salzman teaches: a revelatory meditation on the process, power, and meaning of writing.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Fresh, galvanizing, and articulate…A narrative that asks as many questions as it answers. Cogent, thoughtful, and honest.”

    New York Times

  • I devoured this book . . . Insightful and poignant and funny . . . It’s all soft underbelly in these pages, human beings at their best against great odds, searching for redemption. Sister Helen Prejean, CSJ, author of Dead Man Walking
  • Strikingly candid . . . An unforgettable gallery of individuals whose efforts to articulate their condition and its causes are darkly illuminating–and heartbreaking. Norman Rush, author of Mating and Mortals
  • True Notebooks succeeds in adding something fresh, galvanizing and articulate to the overcrowded realm of classroom stories. A candid, involving teacher’s diary . . . Eloquent . . . Cogent, thoughtful and honest. Janet Maslin, The New York Times (September 15, 2003)
  • Wonderful . . . Even the manipulative kids Salzman introduces are stunningly human . . . Examines a broken system with grace, wit, and gripping storytelling. John Green, Booklist (August 2003, starred and boxed review)
  • [Salzman’s] account’s power comes from keeping its focus squarely on these boys, their writing and their coming-to-terms with the mess their lives had become. Publishers Weekly, starred review (6/16/03)
  • We get to see the kids he’s working with immediately, fairly, and without sentimentality . . .[Mark Salzman] steps aside and lets them speak. Adrian Nicole LeBlanc, author of Random Family: Love, Drugs, Trouble, and Coming of Age in the Bronx
  • “As moving as it is sparse, as revealing as it is concealing, as straightforward as it is complex.”

    Los Angeles Times Book Review

  • “Engaging…Salzman creates a cast of lively, convincing, and hugely sympathetic characters and True Notebooks is filled with powerfully moving scenes.”

    O, The Oprah Magazine

  • “Extraordinary…Everything about this book seems perfect.”

    San Francisco Chronicle

  • “Salzman never falls prey to preaching or moralizing about wayward teens; he keeps the focus on the students’ poems, essays, raps, and conversations.”

    Washington Post

  • Winner of a 2004 YALSA Alex Award
  • Winner of Alex Award, 2004

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kylie | 2/15/2014

    " This book really moved me. What makes it so moving is the spare, unsentimental way Mark Salzman tells the story. I haven't read any of Salzman's other books but I see mention of Zen in a couple of the titles. This does not surprise me at all, because there Salzman is such a clear observer. This is the kind of book that makes you want to get involved, somehow, anyhow in prison reform/outreach. I highly recommend it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Julee | 2/11/2014

    " This book broke my heart many times, but always had me eager to read on. A bittersweet, true account of Mark Salzman's time volunteering as a creative writing instructor for young men at juvenile hall/youth authority in Los Angeles. Inspirational and hard-to-swallow at the same time. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ian | 2/9/2014

    " A look inside a writing program at a juvenile detention facility in California. I admit the recreated dialog makes me a little jumpy. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Dave Ward | 2/7/2014

    " True Notebooks by Mark Salzman (Alfred a. Knopf 2003)(365.42) is the journal of a volunteer teaching creative writng to violent juvenile inmates at Los Angeles's Central Juvenile Hall. The writing samples in the book is devastatingly insightful and honest and quite funny at times. My rating: 7/10, finished 3/11/12. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 estar* | 1/26/2014

    " I have this tendency to think that people I admire have it all together, but Mark Salzman always encourages me because he is an engaging writer who isn't afraid to document his insecurities and failings. I appreciate that because it encourages me to keep trying and not to be so afraid. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jenny | 1/23/2014

    " This was an assigned reading for an MLIS course, LIS 422: Literacy and Service to Special Populations. We're visiting two prisons next month. It was a heavy read, as I anticipated, but Salzman also commented on the good things that come from promoting literacy and education in correctional facilities. It's something I'd recommend to public librarians, educators, social workers, and anyone in corrections/law enforcement. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Doris Sjoquist | 1/1/2014

    " Writing saved the lives of some of juvenile offenders only to have the inequitable Los Angeles justice system take it away from them. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Will O'kelley | 12/21/2013

    " A book about a writer teaching classes in a youth detention facility. Truly a book that causes a lot of thought on the United State's Justice system. Includes strong language and a vivid look at life on the "inside." Really good. I devoured this book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kress | 12/18/2013

    " I loved this. I zipped through it. I should read his other stuff as I loved Iron and Silk too. I think teens would love it too. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Karen | 11/15/2013

    " Thought it was fiction at first; inmates' writings too good (cf writing by Rachel's students). Intriguing; not outstandingly well written and would have liked more "story" but very interesting as a snapshot of juveniles in difficult lives. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Anika | 11/1/2013

    " I work with adolescents in drug rehab and I keep finding myself attracted to books like this or 'always runnings' and they continue to be a let down. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Katie | 11/1/2013

    " inspiring novel, there is still room to make changes. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Alexa | 7/8/2013

    " About ex-gangbangers in jail in a creative writing class. Would be corny if it weren't true. Still a little corny but enjoyable and not so uplifting as to cause nausea. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Trish | 6/19/2013

    " Really was able to identify with this book. True story about a writer that works in a juvenile prison. The story deals with conflict of privilege, the untapped talents of youth and our prison industry. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Dave Robbins | 12/31/2012

    " A book given to me by Jenny Netzer (along with Nickled and Dimed). A great read - amazing perspectives from these kids on life. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Gayle | 9/10/2012

    " A reminder that everyone has a story - and the teachers gift of teaching self-expression as a form of deep healing. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jennifer | 6/16/2012

    " A well written memoir about the author's work with the Inside Out Writing program at a juvenile detention facility. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Aaron L | 5/20/2011

    " A real eye-opener about prison life for teenagers. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Erin | 5/19/2011

    " I loved this - made me think a LOT. I laughed out loud and teared up, got angry at the characters and their reasons for the choices that landed them in prison, and got angry at the system and culture that cycles young people into this life with so little choice and almost no way out. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kristy | 3/23/2011

    " Once I picked this book up, I couldn't put it down. One if the best nonfiction books I have ever read! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mamatoe | 3/21/2011

    " I had to read this book for a child development class and it was incredibly moving. Saltzman is an excellent writer. I never would have believed that the writings were true if I had seen them in any other context. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Emily | 3/19/2011

    " So good--inspiring, depressing, sad, hopeful. Anyone who works with troubled kids, knows troubled kids (THINKS they know troubled kids), is scared of troubled kids, or is skeptical of the power of writing should read this book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Manda | 1/21/2011

    " An author teaches a writing class to violent teenagers in juvenile hall in LA. Very bittersweet and thought-provoking, while at some points funny. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Laurel | 1/5/2011

    " I have been a big Salzman fan ever since I read this book. This is a humble, well-written account of how writing and an inspirational teacher can change lives. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Tanya | 12/20/2010

    " Anyone who is a teacher, a writer, or especially a writing project teacher must read this book. It will remind you why you teach, why you write and why you believe writing changes students lives. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ann | 12/1/2010

    " honest, insightful, humble. Love those qualities in an author! "

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About the Author
Author Mark Salzman

Mark Salzman is an award-winning novelist and memoirist. The son of a social worker and a music teacher, he grew up in Connecticut and studied Chinese language and philosophy at Yale. After college he spent two years in China, learning martial arts from some of China’s most renowned teachers, an experience he documented in his bestselling memoir Iron & Silk. His other books include The Laughing Sutra, Lost in Place, The Soloist, and Lying Awake. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife, director Jessica Yu, and their two daughters.

About the Narrators

Paul Boehmer is an American actor best known for his numerous appearances in the Star Trek universe. He began his audiobook work in 2000 and has since lent his voice to many fiction and nonfiction titles. He has won nine AudioFile Earphones Awards as well as the prestigious Audie Award for Best Narration in 2009 and 2014. Between books, he is active in regional theaters across the country. His television appearances include guest spots on Nip/Tuck and Numb3rs.

Paul Boehmer is an American actor best known for his numerous appearances in the Star Trek universe. He began his audiobook work in 2000 and has since lent his voice to many fiction and nonfiction titles. He has won nine AudioFile Earphones Awards as well as the prestigious Audie Award for Best Narration in 2009 and 2014. Between books, he is active in regional theaters across the country. His television appearances include guest spots on Nip/Tuck and Numb3rs.