Mark Salzman never thought he would be teaching writing at Central Juvenile Hall, a lockup for kids in L.A. But the writing changed his mind. Underneath their bravado, his students were terrified young men and they wrote about their fears with remarkable candour and imagination. Many of these pieces are included in the book. Like Salzman, we come to know and care about the boys through them - of their love for their mothers, anger towards their fathers, guilt for the pain they have caused, despair that they may have lost their chances at life. True Notebooks is his wonderful account of these classes: of his students, their writing and his own silent transformation. Impassioned, generous and eye-opening, it is about the nature of writing, the necessity of self-expression and above all about the great magic that can sometimes occur in a classroom.