Don't Blame Me: The Convict Chronicles by Da'Neen HaleDon't Blame Me:
The Convict Chronicles

by Jonathan Z. Queen
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Reviewed by: Marquist
November 2008


Every so often, a new writer blazes onto the literary scene with an unforgettable debut book that is thrilling and intriguing. Jonathan Z. Queen is such a talent, and his raw, blistering tales of hard-bitten convicts make for the most exciting, authentic collection of short stories I have ever read.

Jonathan Z. Queen’s Don’t Blame Me: The Convict Chronicles is a collection of short stories and poems about the trials and tribulations people go through which ultimately land them in prison. Each tale is so well written and descriptive that you will feel like you are actually in the prison cell with the convicts. This book evokes terror, laughter and compassion and will definitely leave a lasting impression on you after reading it.

Each story is unique in its own way and takes you on a different journey. In the spoken word performance piece entitled “Next”, you will witness the reactions of five inmates when they overhear the nurse at a correctional facility say one of the men tested positive for HIV. This story is very powerful and captures the various ways a person can contract this deadly disease.

Other tales include a girl who is accused of killing her father; a very wealthy man who finds himself involved in a federal crime he didn’t commit; there is a drive-by shooting that goes awry at the last moment; there is a miracle; there are several tragedies; and there are several life changing moments. Queen ends the collection with a story entitled “Don’t Blame Me” which will leave you on the edge of your seat wanting more.

Most of the stories in this book share certain themes: life in prison; a fascination with drugs and violence, even among men who aren't career criminals. A diverse collection of tales, Don’t Blame Me: The Convict Chronicles is guaranteed to strike an assortment of nerves across a wide audience.

Queen is a great example of how a person can change their life after spending years in prison. He spent his teenage years as a drug dealer. At the age of 23, he was labeled a career-criminal and sentenced to 10 years in a federal prison. Today, he is happily married and is dedicated to helping individuals and organizations excel through education, drug and alcohol abstinence, communication and self-improvement.

What did you like about the book?
I loved the quality of the writing in this book. At first, I had mixed thoughts when I received this book and didn’t know what to expect. Fortunately, I was very pleasantly surprised and now I’m eagerly awaiting the next book. Kudos to the author for a job well done!

What did you dislike about the book?
The only thing I dislike about the book is the cover…it’s very misleading and may cause people to walk right past it in a book store or library.

What could the author do to improve the book?
The author could use a different picture for the cover of this book.


The views expressed in published reviews are solely those of the reviewer. The Urban Book Source cannot be held accountable. The information featured, represents that of the reviewer and not that of The Urban Book Source. The reviewer takes full responsibility for the information presented.

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JZQ :
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First and foremost, I want to thank Marquist for the excellent review. It is truly humbling to have my work not only read, but appreciated.
In regards to the cover, I do agree that it can be misleading. I wrote this book during the last few years of my incarceration as part of a Creative Writing class that I taught. The cover depicts a child in handcuffs behind a prison fence and under the spotlight of a guard tower. It is purely my way of sending a subliminal message that if we don't change some things (That 'Don't Blame Me' Attitude being one of the changes) then this is the future we are promising our children. In essence, we are hancuffing and incarcerating their potential.
It was drawn for me by another inmate who truly believed he had done nothing positive in his life and was struggling with what his opportunities would be upon his release. My cover is part of a promise I made to him and other convicts. A promise to change how the world views its fallen and to set a new example of how powerful change can be; for us, our loved ones, our communities and the world itself.
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I am patiently awaiting the continuation.
 




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