I absolutely adore reading - my love for books has had a huge impact on my life! I'm going to grad school to be a children's/YA librarian.
Laurel Daneau has moved on to a new life, in a new town, but inside she’s still reeling from the loss of her beloved mother and grandmother after Hurricane Katrina washed away their home. Laurel’s new life is going well, with a new best friend, a place on the cheerleading squad and T-Boom, co-captain of the basketball team, for a boyfriend. Yet Laurel is haunted by voices and memories from her past. (source)
Wow. I did not expect to like this book as much as I did. I read it for my US of YA challenge and it seriously blew me away. This is not a book that I would usually have picked up - I don't think it's a spoiler to reveal that the main character is a meth addict, and I usually am not all about books about drugs. They're depressing and raw and just so not my type of book. But Jacqueline Woodson seriously did a phenomenal job with this book.
Beneath a Meth Moon is very brief - it only took me an hour to finish. This is a good thing, because, while the book was long enough to tell Laurel's story, it wasn't so long that it weighed me down. This is obviously very heavy subject matter, so, in my opinion, the shorter, the better - as long as the author is able to portray all the struggles that the character experiences, and Woodson does. In this book, we see how Laurel, a girl who's had a very sad life, but is still a fairly "good" girl, turns to meth for solace from her difficulties. Woodson shows how devastating meth is not only to Laurel, but also to her family and friends. It destroys her relationship with her father, brother, and her best friend - Laurel puts her addiction to the drug over everything, even food and shelter. It's absolutely awful, and Woodson makes sure to show that from the first try, Laurel's hooked. Even more impressive in my opinion is that, even though Woodson definitely demonstrates the effects of Laurel's addiction, her story telling technique is beautiful, almost poetic - and that's a compliment that I rarely give to authors. However, while the technique was so wonderful to read, it did seem a bit incongruous with what Laurel was going through. She leads such a rough existence, yet her narration is beautiful - this doesn't really seem to add up, in my opinion.
What was most shocking to me was that Laurel is SO young, only fifteen, and meth seems to be the first drug that she's ever used. She doesn't come out and say this directly, but she never speaks of any prior drug experience. From my understanding, meth is a more "heavy" drug, and thus is usually one that people don't just try right off the bat. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule and I guess that Laurel is just one of these exceptions (and she's depressed and she wants to impress a guy and I guess desperate times call for desperate measures, in her mind...). But anyway, Laurel's age and her prior inexperience definitely shocked me - however, this was all pulled off very well.
Despite my expectations, I found Beneath a Meth Moon to be a very good book. It's well-written and I think it does a good job of depicting how awful this drug truly is. Hopefully, the book will discourage more people from trying life-ruining drugs like meth. Again, this is not a book that I would ever have thought that I would enjoy, and, as pleasantly surprised as I am by it, I still wouldn't say that it's one of my favorites, which is why it failed to earn that elusive 5-star review from me. Nevertheless, Beneath a Meth Moon is very good and if you're up for a quick read that's a bit shocking, I'd recommend giving this a try.