I've never been one for reading descriptions of books usually until I finish reading the book and as a result I often jump into things headfirst without a clue. I found this book randomly used and for sale and was immediately drawn to the guillotine on the cover. I was expecting a fantasy type of story of a magician performing extraordinary feats of magic. I was so far away from the truth of the book it was as if it was a circle and I was actually not that far at all.
There aren't really any "big" events that happen in this book except for the start which is highly exciting and like the last page. As a result the rest of the book reads as just one big build uphill and downhill simultaneously if that makes any sense. I kept waiting for something fantastic to happened but was constantly disappointed by just how normal and boring everything is proceeding. Ed Japhet is essentially this amazing kid with the misfortune of going to a pretty sucky school where the bullies prey on his type. He's an amateur magician and on his prom night he's hired to give a magic show What should have been the best night of his life quickly turns downhill as he's attacked by another student named Urek and what should have been the most straightforward case is quickly thrown in the air because of another magician; in the form of a defense lawyer.
Based on what various media suggests court trials are just flashy shows anyway and not a simple matter of who's in the wrong or right but who has the better lawyer; who can manipulate the jury in such a way to see his side of the story of the way of justice.
It's a great book of the time, highlighting faults in the society of the time that hold true in many degrees in this day. If I had to read Native Son in school I really don't see why teachers shouldn't also add this book to the curriculum.
There can be no happy ending in this shockingly truthful view of fictional events. My edition of the novel proudly proclaims "Soon to be a major movie!" on the back yet as far as I could dig up no such movie was ever created and the book was published more than thirty years ago (with issues that still affect us today). From what I could (not) gather the contents of this book were simply just too intense for movie goers at the time. And too intense for Montello, Wisconsin.