Monday, March 26, 2018

NONFICTION MONDAY: 59 Hours by Johnny Kovatch


Real stories. Real teens. Real consequences.

An innocent teen becomes a hostage stuck in the middle of a dangerous drug-fueled feud in this third book in the chilling Simon True series.

On Sunday, August 6, 2000, fifteen-year-old Nick Markowitz was grabbed off the street on the orders of a local drug dealer named Jesse James Hollywood. Nick was taken as collateral because his brother Ben owed Jesse money. He was an innocent victim who became a pawn in an increasingly high-stakes feud between the two that ended with Nick’s brutal murder.

A dozen or more people saw Nick over the course of the next fifty-nine hours, but no one stepped forward to say anything. No one thought to report the crime to the police. Some of them were scared of Hollywood, while others simply didn’t want to get involved.

When the news of Nick’s murder finally broke, they all had to confront what they’d done—or hadn’t done. As for Hollywood, he ordered the hit, but he wasn’t actually there when the murder took place. And once the story came to light, he immediately disappeared and remained a fugitive on the FBI’s Most Wanted List for nearly six years before his eventual capture.


I find these true crime stories both fascinating and heartbreaking all at once.  Especially in this series from Simon Pulse.  All the stories in this series focus on the actions of teenagers/young adults.  These stories show in rather powerful ways the consequences of the choices we make about who we hang out with and what we do.  In this case, the victim was kidnapped not because of something he did, but because of his brother's actions and the impulses of a group of drug-dealing and drug-taking young men.  

The hardest thing about reading this story is that I knew going in how things were going to turn out.  Yet as I read the book there were numerous occasions when the situation could have been changed by one or more of the individuals who came in contact with Nick and his kidnappers.  Yet for a variety of reasons, fear, reluctance to get involved, and ignorance among them, nobody did anything to change things, not even Nick himself, who believed he was helping his brother by going along with things.  

The author tracks the case from the issues that triggered it (Nick's brother's feud with Jesse James Hollywood) to the murder itself followed by the hunt for Hollywood as a fugitive all the way through his trial and conviction.  The author took the time to interview all those involved who would talk to him as well as consulting numerous articles as well as trial transcripts.  Hearing quotes and comments from some of those who were involved were especially powerful.  The parents' heartbreak came through loud and clear.

Please keep in mind that because of the subject matter this book isn't going to be appropriate for all young readers.  There is plenty of bad language, violence, and talk of drugs and other illegal activity.

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