Not Guilty by C. Lee McKenzie

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"NOT GUILTY is a compelling, engrossing, and ultimately uplifting and rewarding read. I couldn't tear myself away!"
—Cheryl Rainfield, author of Scars, Stained, Hunted and Parallel Visions.

A blood-smeared knife. One young man’s word against another. A lifetime dream crushed.

The evidence points to Devon Carlyle. He was there when it happened. Everyone knows he had it in for Renzo Costa. And Costa says Devon was the one. In the judge’s rap of a gavel Devon’s found guilty of assault. The star of the Oceanside High’s basketball team loses his shot at the one thing he’s worked so hard for—the championship game where college scouts could see how good he is.

Now he makes his great shots in Juvenile Hall with kids far different from those that have always been in his life.
Angry? Hell, yes.

He’s bent on finding who did the crime. He’s bent on making them pay because he’s Not Guilty.

But can he prove it?

14+ due to adult situations

 

Excerpt: 

After basketball practice that next Wednesday afternoon, Devon drove toward Whalers Beach and on down the coast to the farming town called Polk. He’d always liked this stretch of road, and now sweeping past the farms, he remembered all those family trips to buy fresh produce.

 

Like Dad always said, almost everyone in Polk owed their land, their houses, the clothes they wore to a dark-green thistle called the artichoke. The mild winters and cool, foggy summers produced the biggest and best of those thorny vegetables.

 

The Sturgeses’ farm stretched along the edge of the highway and down to the cliffs that sheered straight to beach below. Devon slowed at the Artichokes sign and turned down a dirt road. On either side of him, plants leafed out and were topped with green globes of layered artichokes that poked their heads up to the sky like small armadillos.

 

About half a mile later, the roof of a barn jutted above the vegetation. In a few more yards, he made out the house next to it. A couple of trucks were parked in front. Two men stood next to them. One man wore a wide-brimmed cowboy hat, the other a baseball cap.

 

Devon slowed then braked to a stop. Would he get the chance to talk to Bobby and not have another run-in with a Sturges? He thought about backing out when a horn honked behind him. He looked up to find the camouflage Jeep nosed against the rear of the Mustang.

 

An army of artichoke plants on each side of him weren’t going to let the Mustang escape across the fields. JD didn’t budge behind. The only way was forward.

 

How true, Devon thought as he put the car into gear and pulled up in front of the house.

 

Devon rolled to a stop and got out. JD cut around him fast, spattering the Mustang with mud.

 

“JD!” the older man in the cowboy hat yelled. “Park that damn thing before I shoot it.”

 

Please don’t let them have guns, Devon prayed. He was already in enough trouble. Three very big Sturges people. One Carlyle.

 

“Are you Bobby Sturges?” Devon asked before he lost his nerve.

 

“I am. You got business here?” Bobby said, his eyes squinting against the fading sun.

 

“Yes, sir. I’m Devon Carlyle.” Devon swallowed, trying to keep his mouth from going dry. “And I’m trying to put my life back together. I think you might be able to help me do that.”

 

“I don’t know you or anything about you, so how can I do something that important?”

 

Devon wished he knew, but he had a feeling the answer was here. The answer was with one of these men. He glanced at JD and the man next to him. They could have been twins if JD weren’t a few years younger. “JD knows me.”

 

“JD! Barlow! Get over here,” Bobby shouted without taking his eyes from Devon, then he spit into a muddy puddle at his feet.

 

“What we got here, Dad?” The man named Barlow didn’t have the nasty smirk that JD did, but he did have the same square jaw. They were related. And judging from these three, this was where a whole family of tall, lean men with dark hair lived.

 

“This fella seems to think we can help him.” Bobby scuffed his boot along the ground and looked up at Devon from under the shadow of his hat. “You want to explain that to us?”

 

The dad looked like his sons without the cruelty in his face or his voice. Devon told him exactly why he’d come. He ignored JD and Barlow.

 

He finished with, “I didn’t stab Renzo Costa. I want to find out who did.”

 

Product Reviews

Score: 5 out of 5 (based on 32 ratings)
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5/5
Will the truth ever come out for Devon Carlyle?
Written by Baroness Book Trove on 6th Nov 2019

Not Guilty by C. Lee McKenzie was a tale of how one's life could go wrong in a matter of seconds. Devon Carlyle Devon Carlyle is our main character and the character we follow along with throughout the book. It's written in the third person but we are always with him. We see how things have different for him throughout his life from the point his world changed on March 1st to the ending of the story. Devon is a good student and loves basketball. He had a goal in life that was a bit thrown for a loop but Devon made it work even though he has to find justice for himself. Devon is a good person that was in the wrong place at the wrong time. I like Devon a lot as it shows that he made what life has thrown at him the best he could. I also like that he didn't give up trying to find justice for himself. Devon is a great character and I feel we could be friends in the real world. The Mystery The mystery in this story is all about who actually stabbed and left Renzo Costas for dead. It obviously wasn't the main character but who? That could have been anyone in Mr. Costas's life. Finding that out was a lot of hard work. Going through the book and trying to figure this out with Devon was a lot of fun. Solving a mystery is always fun with the main character of any kind of mystery novel. Five Stars Not Guilty by C. Lee McKenzie is an entertaining tale of what can happen when you least expect it. It makes some people really think about what might happen if they did something different but can't exactly change the past. Devon learns that the hard way on finding out that he's being blamed for something that he never did. Not Guilty is an exceptional book and I am giving this book five stars. I am also recommending it to anyone that likes to read young adult and romantic suspense. I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy from the MC Book Tours. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. Thank you for dropping by! I hope you enjoyed this review of Not Guilty by C. Lee McKenzie. Anyways, until next time, Karen the Baroness

5/5
Very engaging read
Written by Swarup Biswas on 6th Nov 2019

Devon Carlyle grows on you till you’re rooting for him and his innocence. Teen angst, and the way being at the wrong place at the wrong time can have devastating consequences: McKenzie shows this with a sure eye for characters and detail. I started reading the book this morning and finished it in a few hours. This was an absorbing read.

5/5
WHEN IT SEEMS HOPELESS, THEN YOU DISCOVER WHO YOU ARE
Written by Roland on 6th Nov 2019

I taught in high school, and I felt the world created was real. I've seen some of those students in my own classrooms. Devon rose to the challenge thrown at him: to refuse to buckle when he could see no way out. When the victory is assured, it is easy to be heroic. Not so much when you the way ahead seems only to lead to the end of all your dreams. This is a riveting mystery that carries you deep in the night when your tired eyes say it is time for bed. The life lessons contained are muted and not preachy: when no one seems to believe in you that is when it is most important to continue to believe in yourself and in courage when all is dark. You do not have to be in YA novels to enjoy this book. All you have to do is be someone who enjoys a great story and loves mysteries. I cannot praise this novel enough.

5/5
Read the entire thing in one sitting
Written by Lynda D on 6th Nov 2019

When I picked up Not Guilty, I never expected that I wouldn't be able to put it down until the end of the book. There was just no "good" place to stop for the night, because the story just kept me engaged and wanting to know more. I won't give a summary of the book, because you can read the description for yourself, but what I will say is that this author knows how to tap into the minds of young adults. The thoughts, the actions, the loyalties (or lack of them) and the everyday struggles are captured so well that it kept me immersed in Devon Carlysle's world. The MC isn't perfect—though he seems to have much, he still struggles with typical high school teen stuff, and when the going gets really tough, he doesn't shake it off with a Mr. Flawless attitude. He gets hurt. He gets scared. He gets angry . . . angry enough to act in an atypical way, and angry enough to recognize that he didn't have it all as "together" as he thought he did. I liked the character interactions overall. People seemed realistic and there were no cookie-cutter characters. And I also liked that the good-guy help came from some unexpected places. The characters, in fact, gave a well-rounded view of people just being people: everyone had flaws, everyone had something good (even if wrongly motivated), and everyone struggled in a way that made sense in their world. The family interactions were spot-on, and the story was great about showing how what happens to one family member affects everyone in tangible ways. The ending was solid, and I appreciated that it didn't wrap up too tidily, with everyone getting a happily ever after. Staying true to the rest of the storyline, things were better but not perfect, and that's what I think makes this YA read attractive to teens who want to see real issues dealt with in a real way.

5/5
A tale of truth and self discovery
Written by Donna M on 6th Nov 2019

Enter the world of high school junior, Devon Carlyle. Popular, highly skilled basketball player, sights on a college basketball scholarship, the girl of his dreams by his side and true friends. Devon is walking on air and feels it to his inner core of how good he has got it. Until one spiraling day where all that seemed perfect comes crashing down around him. Finding himself accused of a violent crime, convicted and sent to juvenile detention in a whirlwind of accusations, Devon and his family find themselves helpless. Cast aside by his so-called friends, girlfriend and the town as a whole Devon embarks on a journey of finding true friends in the most unlikely circumstances and the ultimate quest to clear his name. The reader will be immersed in the action from the onset as they turn the pages quicker than they can determine what they think will happen next. Author, C. Lee McKenzie weaves a tale of truth and self discovery in a fashion of honesty leaving the reader to want to fight any injustice they may come across in their own lives. Bravo!

4/5
A realistic high school situation makes a compelling mystery.
Written by Janet Whitechurch on 1st Nov 2019

As a former high school teacher, I found the characters very true to life — they acted and thought like high school students. The book built the characters and situation in the first part and then after a lull, the book moved away from a character study to a page turning mystery with believable twists and turns. The book was a pleasure to read as entertainment, but also had some good messages about trust and loyalty, which will appeal to young readers along with “instructing” them.

5/5
Not Guilty
Written by Lourin on 1st Nov 2019

For a young adult novel, I was really impressed with Not Guilty. C. Lee McKenzie is not an author I've read before. But in terms of writing style, this book was easy to follow along and at times I honestly forgot I was reading about a teenage boy and not an adult man. Devon Carlyle, as a junior in high school, believes he's at the top of his "career". He's got a great family, the girl who understands him, and he's the star player on the basketball court. He's also on the fast track to getting noticed by scouts to obtain a basketball scholarship for college. However, everything changes for him in one day. Now he no longer has the girl and now he's fighting for his innocence when a fellow Oceanside citizen is stabbed and left for dead on the beach. Devon may have been on the beach, his fingerprints may have been on the bloodied knife, and he may have had a previous altercation with the victim, but that doesn't mean Devon is guilty of the crime. In Not Guilty, Devon must prove his innocence when nobody else believes him. I especially liked how he changed as a person and no longer hung with "friends" because they were in his circle or played basketball with him. His whole attitude changes when he is found guilty and forced to serve 5 months in juvenile hall. The side characters, Tats, Chewy, and Ice were especially great in that they helped Devon even when they were no longer together. They helped show him that there are times when anger and revenge are not the answer to a problem and helped him in times when he felt like he would never find the evidence he needed to prove his innocence.

5/5
Compelling
Written by Diane on 30th Oct 2019

This story about a young man falsely accused of a crime disturbed me. The author made the situation in juvie so real I had to put down the book. But the story was so well written I had to find out what happened to Devon. My persistence was rewarded. As the story unfolded, the characters became real to me. The situations Devon and his family encountered were equally realistic. Devon's obsession with discovering the true culprit "forced" me to keep reading. I had to know if he would be successful. Young readers and adults will find the book compelling.

5/5
Highly recommended for teens and adults who like good writing
Written by Pat Stotley on 30th Oct 2019

It’s not easy for a writer to tell a story without sounding preachy when there are numerous lessons to be learned from the characters and events. C. Lee McKenzie pulls it off beautifully in the young adult novel, Not Guilty. Dialogue and narrative keep the reader in the story without a moment’s pause, and yet the reader comes away with powerful conclusions about the nature of true friendship, the rewards that come with honesty and integrity, the need from time to time to stand up for oneself…or a friend, and the risks we face when our anger is uncontrolled. Highly recommended for teen readers and adults (like me) who enjoy good writing.

5/5
A Compelling YA Tale of Social Injustice
Written by Sherry Ellis on 30th Oct 2019

When high school basketball star, Devon Carlyle, is wrongfully accused of assaulting a man on the beach with a knife, his world is turned upside-down. He needs to prove his innocence and find the true culprit. Not Guilty is not just a story of social injustice and dealing with the aftermath of being wrongly accused. It is a story of friendship. Devon forms bonds with his juvenile detention roomies, Ice, Tats, and Chewy, who help him unravel who really committed the crime. The book is well-written with fully-developed characters. Although it is obvious that Devon is not guilty, it is still interesting to watch the friendships develop and eventually learn the identity of the one who committed the crime. Recommended for Y/A readers.

5/5
Guilty or Innocent?
Written by Bish Denham on 30th Oct 2019

Devon's got it all: the perfect girlfriend, the possibility of a collage basketball scholarship, a caring family, friends. But when he's accused of deadly assault, his whole world is suddenly turned up-side-down and he finds himself in Juvenile Hall, the "good" kid thrown in with a bunch of "bad" kids. Being locked up in an alien environment is scary enough, but when he realizes the profound affect the accusation has on his family, Devon is not only riddled with guilt, he becomes determined to prove his innocence, which could get him into even deeper trouble. This is a story about discovering who your real friends are. Are they the kids you've known most of your life, or the kids you meet in juvie? Not Guilty has got the perfect amount of teen-aged angst and resolve, determination and hope, mystery and danger.

5/5
Thumb's Up for Not Guilty
Written by Elizabeth S on 30th Oct 2019

As a licensed social worker and former child advocate, I was impressed with the dimension the author gave to the main character. As in real life, there were plenty of times when Devon (the MC) did things that weren't smart that exacerbated his troubles or failed to ask for help that would have helped get him out of the dilemma he found himself in. But that's real life. Teens don't always do the smartest thing and are often ruled more by emotion than from wisdom. I enjoyed the characters and was eagerly rooting for them from the beginning to the end. Well, all of them but the girlfriend. No love for a girl without any loyalties. I knew Devon would have to be exonerated, but wasn't sure how or if he'd learn to find himself a better group of friends who would support him through thick and thin. That was my favorite mystery in the story

5/5
fantastic contemporary YA
Written by Christine Rains on 30th Oct 2019

An incredible YA contemporary story that takes the reader on a twisting roller coaster of a ride. Though this isn't the usual genre I read, it's books like this one that keep me coming back to them. It deals with several issues young people face every day and problems that seem overwhelming. Many times it seemed Devon would drown under the pressure or let his anger get the best of him, but I loved reading about his growth through these difficult times. I especially liked the friendships he formed with his roomies in the juvenile detention center. Real teens who had made mistakes, but had learned from them and were trying to better themselves. What made this tale even more compelling was that it showed not only what happened with Devon after he was found guilty and sent away, but how his family suffered too. The sentence didn't only affect him, but sent ripples out all around him. Well worth the read for readers of any age.

5/5
*Not Guilty*
Written by Cathrina on 30th Oct 2019

C. Lee McKenzie knows how to get into teenagers heads. Not Guilty is full of teeth gritting angst not only for the main character, but for the reader as well as we hope Devon can beat this charge. Devon is on top of the world. He had it all. Looking forward to that basketball college scholarship, he had the girl of his dreams, and he was popular. Then he’s accused of a crime he didn’t commit, but can he prove it? No. And his temper is always getting the better of him. He’s sent to a juvenile facility where its hardship after hardship, with a bunch of boys pulling him apart on all sides. However, through it all, he’s learning so much. Self-control, lasting friendship, how to be subjective. After he’s released, he discovers since his incarceration his entire family has suffered. His life is a mess, but he’s determined to find the person who actually committed the crime. I try not to leave spoilers, but I hope you’ll be rooting for Devon, who’s Not Guilty. This is a powerfully written story which I highly recommend!

4/5
A worthy redemption tale.
Written by Toinette on 30th Oct 2019

This book had a very satisfying ending, and for me, that was the deciding factor for how I would rate this book. Being a reader who struggles with YA, this story was a challenge for me, but it was also interesting enough to keep wondering how it would all come together in the end. I’d like to say that I really felt for the MC and was rooting for him the whole time, but I really wasn’t. I knew he was not guilty, thus the title, but I simply didn’t care much for him until the end. I liked his family and many of the people he met along the way and hoped that by him proving himself, those other characters would be better off. One thing that surprised me when reading this, were the moments of suspense that the author seamlessly wove into the story without making it seem forced or just for show. I had some issues with the crime/detective part of the story. Luckily, many of my concerns are resolved by the end of the book but two weren’t. I think some of that boils down to my struggle with YA. I just couldn’t understand why certain things happened, but perhaps that’s just what teens do. The author’s talent is evident in every word and she’s clearly writing to her audience. My issues may very well just be my issues. As previously stated, I really appreciated the end of this book. I was expecting to turn in a lower rating to match a Brady Bunch ending, but the author chose to reflect a bit of reality in this tale of fiction. I even began to really care for the MC by the end. Recommend to fans of YA crime fiction, suspense, and redemption tales. Disclaimer: I received a digital ARC in exchange for an honest review.

5/5
An edgy character fighting back
Written by Heather on 28th Oct 2019

C. Lee McKenzie’s Not Guilty offers a chilling look at a reality all too possible, when a series of unlucky events plunges high school student Devon Carlyle from the heights of being a star basketball prospect to being a murder suspect. The twists and turns of Devon’s descent are wholly plausible as Ms. McKenzie deftly drops a trail of breadcrumbs from page one, culminating in Devon’s fall from grace and his ensuing nightmare as he tries to clear his name. Ms. McKenzie has shown her skill in giving voice to troubled teens in previous works, notably in Sliding on the Edge and The Princess of Las Pulgas. In Not Guilty, she’s at the top of her game, pairing sharp dialogue with tense pacing to bring readers a story that is enjoyable and satisfying. In the main character of Devon Carlyle, readers will discover a smart, edgy character tenaciously dedicated to fighting back. His troubles are those shared by most teenagers – love, college, his future – set against wider cultural issues like neighborhood violence, discrimination, broken homes and second chances. In the sympathetically drawn portraits of characters like Ice and Chewy, the story’s theme of redemption and friendship find their best voice. Not Guilty should be on the list for anyone interested in the issues faced by today’s young people, from both sides of the tracks.

5/5
Small Town Intrigue, Teen Angst, Mystery & Suspense
Written by Juneta on 27th Oct 2019

Small town intrigue, a nonchalant teenager accused of a crime he didn't do life is turned upside down when everyone believes he is guilty. People he thought he could count on fall short forcing him to grow up and face some things many of us don't want to face. Lots of tension, angst, and suspense throughout the tale to keep you reading. It is a mystery with real issues and in some ways a coming of age through hardship. Characters are well developed in a well-told story. I received an ARC copy of this book and I am voluntarily reviewing it.

5/5
Themes of justice and the meaning of friendship
Written by Avid Reader 44 on 27th Oct 2019

Devon’s on the brink of his best year ever when he’s caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. What seems like a bad day results in major consequences when he is unjustly convicted in a stabbing. While navigating the social complexities of a juvenile detention center, he forges a bond with his three roommates and gains a new perspective on his angry past. But he and his family suffer from the repercussions of his highly publicized crime even after his release. When the justice system and a private investigator fail to exonerate him, Devon must rely on the perspective he gained during his time away and the support from his newfound friends to unravel who really committed the crime. Not Guilty explores themes of justice, revenge, and the meaning of friendship.

5/5
The characters leap off the page and into your heart.
Written by Sandra Cox on 27th Oct 2019

This story’s characters leap straight off the page and into the readers’ hearts. Devon Carlyle is in his junior year and the world is his oyster. He’s got the girl and a basketball scholarship nearly in his grasp. Then the unthinkable happens and he’s accused and found guilty of a crime he didn’t commit and ends up in a juvenile detention center. While there he encounters enemies and makes some unlikely friends. When he gets out, he discovers that being incarcerated may not be the worst of it. Both he and his family are shunned by those they thought would stand by them. The only people that accept him now are the friends he made in juvie and another young man who’s been in juvie. To right his world and that of his family’s he must find who set him up while managing to stay alive. If you enjoy coming of age dramas this should go on your TBR list. I highly recommend it.

5/5
Not Guilty - but can he prove it?
Written by Elephants Child on 27th Oct 2019

We know from the start that Devon is not guilty of murder. Sadly he is found guilty, and sentenced to juvenile detention. He (and his family) are also convicted of the crime by the community in which he lives. Devon is a privileged young man. He has a supportive family and is a popular and gifted athlete. His problems firmly fell into the First World Problem category - until this. I recognised him, but didn't warm to him. Of course he seeks to establish his innocence. How could he not? However, the story line which kept me engrossed was his growth as a person, and his recognition that his life of privilege and his expectations for the future was based on very shaky ground. Of course he is ultimated found innocent (whidh I don't think is a spoiler). His growth into a more thoughtful caring human being was much less predictable - and beautifully handled. Yay Devon - and many thanks to C. Lee Mckenzie. As a disclaimer I was given an digital ARC of Not Guilty prior to publication.

5/5
But How Do You Prove Innocence?
Written by Janet Glaser on 27th Oct 2019

In C. Lee McKenzie’s latest YA novel, Not Guilty, high school basketball star, Devon Carlyle, is a good responsible student planning on attending college, and a member of a loving family. This does not describe a young man who would assault a man on the beach with a knife. I thought this was a bit far-fetched for him to be guilty of such a crime. But when all the evidence was presented backed up by an eyewitness, Devon Carlyle was sentenced to 4 months in juvenile detention. Ms. Mckenzie allows readers to enter this young man’s typical high school world and follow him on the day of the assault. He is Not Guilty. I had to find out if he could prove his innocence. Readers will keep turning pages to follow his experiences in detention and meeting characters developed so well by the author. His conviction not only affects him, but also the relationship with his family and high school friends. This story is rich in detail with every nuance of his frustration and anger recorded for readers to see and feel. Highly recommended. I received an ARC of this book, but I am voluntarily reviewing it.

5/5
Growth Within Adversity
Written by salarsen on 27th Oct 2019

Small town politics, grudges, prejudice, and a boy who’s caught in the crosshairs sets this teen mystery ablaze. Having been accused of a crime and knowing her didn’t do it, Devon is sure this whole thing will blow over. But he was dead wrong. The (supposed) crime, the judicial system, and Juvenile Hall gradually increase tension and conflict within Devon and the world he thought he knew. People turn on him and his family. Through vivid descriptions of the world and its characters, an arena of emotions and self-reflection is created. Devon feels betrayed and scared and ultimately angry. I love how Devon works out his confusion and feelings during his incarceration, despite not belonging there. He finds advice in unlikely friendships – kids he never would have spoken to before. Together, they find a common goal, improving communication skills and tolerance. Devon begins to learn how to let go of his negative feelings and circumstance to focus and help someone else. The author has captured the essence of the teen spirit from angst to anger and hope to honor in a constructive and meaningful way. I’d recommend this book to teen readers who love a good mystery, to explore the dynamics between characters, and to root for the underdog despite all odds.

5/5
How Devon handles this life-changing event is the story--excellent
Written by Jacqui Murphy on 27th Oct 2019

In McKenzie's riveting latest novel, Not Guilty (2019), high school junior Devon Carlyle is living a nightmare no teenager should face. One day, he is at the top of the food chain in his school, star basketball player, beautiful girlfriend, looking at a scholarship to the school of his choice. Then, his world collapses when he is falsely accused of seriously injuring another student who he's fought with in the past. Convicted and sent to juvenile hall for five months, he resolves to do his time and then find the real culprit so he can clear his name. He suffers through incarceration, cameras watching his every move, other inmates who try the injure him, and the realization that none of his friends believe he is innocent. When he is finally released, he finds out juvie was the easy part. This is a richly drawn story of a family whose life is turned upside down for something they didn't do and can't fight. It could be dark and depressing but McKenzie makes it uplifting by showing how this everyday boy and his straight-arrow family face the problems, do what they can, and figure out how to survive. The story sounds almost mundane--thousands go through this every year, don't they--but at about the 15% point, it grabbed me and wouldn't let go. At first, I didn't care about a privileged high school basketball star and then I really did. I couldn't stop reading until I saw how the h*** he would get himself out of this mess. This is a satisfying read of a real-life story with unexpected highs--and lows. You don't want to miss it.

4/5
A worthy redemption tale.
Written by Toinette on 27th Oct 2019

This book had a very satisfying ending, and for me, that was the deciding factor for how I would rate this book. Being a reader who struggles with YA, this story was a challenge for me, but it was also interesting enough to keep wondering how it would all come together in the end. I’d like to say that I really felt for the MC and was rooting for him the whole time, but I really wasn’t. I knew he was not guilty, thus the title, but I simply didn’t care much for him until the end. I liked his family and many of the people he met along the way and hoped that by him proving himself, those other characters would be better off. One thing that surprised me when reading this, were the moments of suspense that the author seamlessly wove into the story without making it seem forced or just for show. I had some issues with the crime/detective part of the story. Luckily, many of my concerns are resolved by the end of the book but two weren’t. I think some of that boils down to my struggle with YA. I just couldn’t understand why certain things happened, but perhaps that’s just what teens do. The author’s talent is evident in every word and she’s clearly writing to her audience. My issues may very well just be my issues. As previously stated, I really appreciated the end of this book. I was expecting to turn in a lower rating to match a Brady Bunch ending, but the author chose to reflect a bit of reality in this tale of fiction. I even began to really care for the MC by the end. Recommend to fans of YA crime fiction, suspense, and redemption tales. Disclaimer: I received a digital ARC in exchange for an honest review.

5/5
How do you act when everything seems to go against you?
Written by Jeff on 27th Oct 2019

This book grabbed my attention in the first chapter and kept me engaged throughout. I didn’t want to put it down, wanting to figure out how the protagonist, Devon, gets through his dilemma. A high school junior with the hope of playing college basketball, Devon is dumped by his girlfriend after someone falsely identifies his car parked on the street where his ex-girl friend lived. That was a start of a bad day that only got worse. He skips his last class and went to the beach. On the way, he’s receives a ticket for speeding and then later, identified as the person who stabbed a local surfer on that afternoon. When he’s found guilty, he is sent to juvenile detention for five months and then is on probation afterwards. Along the way, he’s haunted by a basketball player from another town who he runs into in detention (and afterwards). In detention, he befriends several Hispanic youths who teach him what true friendship is all about. After he gets out of detention, he realizes things have gone downhill for his family (they suffered financial hardship because of his conviction). But in the end, everything works out as Devon helps put the pieces together that eventually lead to the arrest of the person who committed the assault. In a way, the Devon and his family fortunes have changed so that the book seems somewhat comic (in the classical sense). But Devon does learn what it means to work hard, to have true friends, and that although the justice system doesn’t always get it right, it often corrects itself. This would be a great read for any teenager, especially for boys who have found themselves being wrongly accused by police (as I experienced nearly a half-century ago). Lee McKenzie should be congratulated for writing a book that addresses such issues. I received a free electronic copy of this book for an honest review.

5/5
Heart wrenching and emotional
Written by Minx on 25th Oct 2019

As someone that experienced through friendship with others how just one accusation, being in the wrong place at the wrong time can change someone's life, this book really hit the mark. The characters had depth that made you feel for their struggle, cry with them, be frustrated with them and it was an emotional ride. Friendship and strong characters made the journey worth it.

5/5
Heart wrenching and emotional
Written by Minx on 25th Oct 2019

As someone that experienced through friendship with others how just one accusation, being in the wrong place at the wrong time can change someone's life, this book really hit the mark. The characters had depth that made you feel for their struggle, cry with them, be frustrated with them and it was an emotional ride. Friendship and strong characters made the journey worth it.

5/5
Emotional, Powerful, Gritty
Written by JFraser on 25th Oct 2019

This book is a powerful and emotional read - one of my favourite YA reads ever. Devon is a 17-year-old basketball star who has everything going his way ... until he's accused of stabbing a man on a stretch of beach near his home. Watching Devon go through so many challenges makes for a stressful and emotional ride that had me both in tears and cheering more than once. Honest, gritty, realistic, and incredibly heartfelt. These characters and this story will stay with you long after you've finished the final page. A fabulous read!!

5/5
One heck of a great read!
Written by Darby Karchut on 25th Oct 2019

This book is the real deal and will keep readers devouring Devon’s story page after page. I know I did. This contemporary YA story, set in California, explores what it’s like being accused of a serious crime that you didn’t commit. But it is more than that – it is also a story of friendship between four very different young men, all who band together to help each other. Right from the beginning, I was cheering for Devon, as well as his roomies in Juvenile Detention: Ice, Tats and Chewy, who befriend Devon on his first day. What great characters, especially Tats. And even though Pinky, a fellow classmate of Devon’s, didn’t get as much airplay, his lines were some of the funniest in the whole book. This is one heck of a YA novel that everyone can relate to.

5/5
My sense of justice is piqued!
Written by Mary Aalagaard on 25th Oct 2019

Whether or not he did it, or he didn't, once he was accused, arrested, and questioned, he was convicted by the community. Devon Carlyle was living the average young man's life. He was a star on his high school basketball team, had a nice girlfriend, good friends, and hopes for a bright future, including a basketball scholarship to a college. That all changed when he took a walk along the beach one Fall afternoon after having a fight with his girlfriend. Now, his prints are all over the bloody knife and the missing shoe. His own history with the man who was attacked doesn't help his case, nor does his hot temper. His whole family suffers social rejection and judgement as Devon faces serious accusations and fights to clear his name. In times like these, you find out who your real friends are. I was fortunate to receive an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) of Not Guilty by C. Lee McKenzie. I could not put it down. It was as compelling to me as the podcast Serial, in which a young man is found guilty of a crime that he professes not to have committed. My sense of justice is piqued in stories like these. I want to find out the truth, see the innocent set free, and the guilty given their sentence. McKenzie is an excellent writer

5/5
But How Do You Prove Innocence?
Written by Janet Glaser on 25th Oct 2019

In C. Lee McKenzie’s latest YA novel, Not Guilty, high school basketball star, Devon Carlyle, is a good responsible student planning on attending college, and a member of a loving family. This does not describe a young man who would assault a man on the beach with a knife. I thought this was a bit far-fetched for him to be guilty of such a crime. But when all the evidence was presented backed up by an eyewitness, Devon Carlyle was sentenced to 4 months in juvenile detention. Ms. Mckenzie allows readers to enter this young man’s typical high school world and follow him on the day of the assault. He is Not Guilty. I had to find out if he could prove his innocence. Readers will keep turning pages to follow his experiences in detention and meeting characters developed so well by the author. His conviction not only affects him, but also the relationship with his family and high school friends. This story is rich in detail with every nuance of his frustration and anger recorded for readers to see and feel. Highly recommended. I received an ARC of this book, but I am voluntarily reviewing it.

5/5
How do you act when everything seems to go against you?
Written by Jeff on 25th Oct 2019

This book grabbed my attention in the first chapter and kept me engaged throughout. I didn’t want to put it down, wanting to figure out how the protagonist, Devon, gets through his dilemma. A high school junior with the hope of playing college basketball, Devon is dumped by his girlfriend after someone falsely identifies his car parked on the street where his ex-girl friend lived. That was a start of a bad day that only got worse. He skips his last class and went to the beach. On the way, he’s receives a ticket for speeding and then later, identified as the person who stabbed a local surfer on that afternoon. When he’s found guilty, he is sent to juvenile detention for five months and then is on probation afterwards. Along the way, he’s haunted by a basketball player from another town who he runs into in detention (and afterwards). In detention, he befriends several Hispanic youths who teach him what true friendship is all about. After he gets out of detention, he realizes things have gone downhill for his family (they suffered financial hardship because of his conviction). But in the end, everything works out as Devon helps put the pieces together that eventually lead to the arrest of the person who committed the assault. In a way, the Devon and his family fortunes have changed so that the book seems somewhat comic (in the classical sense). But Devon does learn what it means to work hard, to have true friends, and that although the justice system doesn’t always get it right, it often corrects itself.