Tillit, L.B. Unchained.
Saddleback Educational Publishing, 2012
TJ's mother is strung out on pot and meth; his father has died of a drug overdose. While his mother is getting clean, he is sent into foster care, where he does very well. He enjoys school and does well, learns to get along with his siblings, and is free of the concerns of having drug addled parents in a gang infested neighborhood. When his mother is released, however, he has to go back to her and gets sucked back into the gang. Determined not to follow his father's path, he tries to exist inside the gang but not do the drugs. When gang violence results in TJ being approached to run the gang, he decides instead to leave the neighborhood and resume his educaton.
Strengths: This is a great book for reluctant readers who are drawn to inner city stories about drugs. Bluford High fans will like this series, Gravel Road.
Weaknesses: There is some mention of sex but nothing graphic. This book does not glamorize either sex or drugs. Hooray! Several students have borrowed the ARC from my pile.
Woodson, Jacqueline. Beneath a Meth Moon.
Laurel's family was living in Pass Christian when a devastating hurricane kills her mother and grandmother who stay behind. After a few years with her aunt, Laurel, her father, and younger brother move to a small town in Iowa. For a while, she is happy. She makes the cheerleading squad and starts to date T-Boom, a basketball player. The sadness of her loss is always with her, so when T-Boom gives her a taste of meth, she quickly gets hooked. Soon, everything else fades into the background. She drops out of school, and starts to beg on the streets for money to feed her addiction while living in an abandon store. A local artist, Moses, tries to save her, since he has seen too many others die, but only Laurel can make the decision to wean herself from the meth.
Strengths: My students are forever askinf for books about drugs, but most of them (like the works of Ellen Hopkins) include far too much bad language and sexual situations for middle schoolers to check out of a school library. This was perfect. The drug abuse is evident but not glamorized. The best part was the rural, white, middle America setting!
Weaknesses: Flips back and forth in time in a slightly hard to follow way.
Sand-Eveland, Cyndi. Tinfoil Sky.E Arc from Netgalley.com
Melody's mother, Cecily,has never been the best mother. The most recent problem the two have is running from the latest boyfriend. Cecily decided to go "home", but her mother, Gladys, is not happy to see the pair, since Cecily's last visit resulted in many of Gladys' things being stolen. When Cecily ends up in jail for shop lifting, Mel's only resort is to live with Gladys, who grudgingly takes her in. Mel is happy that she can get a library card, and starts to spend much of her summer vacation at the library, where she ends up getting a job. She learns more about her grandfather, Tux, from the local grocery store owner, and assembles a support group for herself. She counts down the days until her mother can come back, but can her mother pull herself together to care for Mel?
Strengths: This was a compelling, quick read that has a Jacqueline Wilson/Cathy Cassidy vibe.
Weaknesses: Cover a bit weak and happy.
Nayeri, Daniel and Dina. Another Jekyl, Another Hyde.
From the Publisher:"Thomas struggles to accept his billionaire father's marriage to governess Nicola Vileroy and begins to spend less time with his friends and more time at clubs, where someone slips him a dangerous drug, but things get scarier after Thomas begins to suspect Vileroy is part of a sinister supernatural plan. "
This is the third in a series. The ARC came from Baker and Taylor. I will have to look at the books before this, Another Faustus and Another Pan. An interesting, evil, paranormal kind of book, but confusing without having read the others first.
Whew. Should I include Mull's The Candy Shop War? Really, kids, don't give drugs to your parents, even if they are disguised as candy. And no, no matter how many budget cuts there are, it's a bad idea for librarians, too.