22. March 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Courtney, Fiction, Teen Books

Beneath a Meth Moon by Jacqueline Woodson, 182 pages, read by Courtney, on 03/20/2012

This is my first time reading Jacqueline Woodson’s work, though not, by any stretch, my first time reading about addiction. Laurel is a girl from coastal Mississippi who loses her mother and grandmother in a hurricane and eventually moves north with her father and brother to start a new life. Laurel starts out well in her new town. She joins the cheerleading team, makes a new best friend and meets a basketball player that makes her swoon. Unfortunately, as in so many rural areas, the kids like to “party” and Laurel’s crush-turned-boyfriend introduces her to meth (“moon”, as they call it). Within a few months, Laurel is living on the street, busking for change to feed her habit.
This novel is written more as an elegy. Laurel is a writer and continues her craft even through the lowest points of addiction. Laurel is one of the more sympathetic addict-characters I’ve come across. She is a young woman in a lot of pain, seeking acceptance and love from new and potentially dangerous sources. She will do anything to numb the pain of loss, even as she realizes that her new habit is destroying her. Fortunately, there is a light at the end of the tunnel and it resides in her father, her brother and a young graffiti artist who paints memorial portraits for families who have lost children to addiction. This is a solid story that rises above “problem novel” status. Laurel’s story feels very real and nuanced. The writing has a lovely dream-like quality to it in spite of the tough subject matter.

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