Beneath a Meth Moon

Jacqueline Woodson. Penguin/Paulsen, $16.99 (192p) ISBN 978-0-399-25250-1
Fifteen-year-old ex-meth addict Laurel is writing an “elegy to the past” in an attempt to recover her life. After her mother and grandmother die in Hurricane Katrina, Laurel, her father, and her younger brother, Jesse Jr., move from their temporary new home in Jackson, Miss., to Galilee, Iowa, for a fresh start. Laurel makes a new friend, joins the cheerleading squad, and begins dating star athlete T-Boom, but she is still bereft over her lost family. When T-Boom offers her a taste of “the moon” (meth), her sadness evaporates. “Thing about the moon is—it takes you deeper,” Laurel says. “Deeper than you’d go on your own.” She quickly becomes addicted, neglects her friends and family, and winds up begging on the street in pursuit of more. Woodson’s (Peace, Locomotion) dreamlike story is constructed of Laurel’s patchy memories peppered with the voices of expertly sketched characters and rich with writerly observations. While readers know that Laurel survives, Woodson maintains tension throughout, making it abundantly clear how easy it is to succumb to meth and how difficult it is to recover from it. Ages 12–up. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 01/02/2012
Release date: 02/02/2012
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