Beneath a Meth Moon.
Jacqueline Woodson's books for children and teens (After Tupac and D Foster , Feathers , Hush ) have won numerous prizes, including the Coretta Scott King Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. In 2006, she was honored with the Margaret A. Edwards Award for her lifetime contribution to young adult literature.
THE STORY: Following advice from her rehab counselor, 15-year-old Laurel Daneau decides to "write an elegy to the past" as part of her recovery from meth addiction. But her memories are difficult to revisit. After the death of her mother and grandmother during Hurricane Katrina, Laurel moves to Galilee, Iowa with her father and younger brother. The teen tries hard to move on with her life, making new friends, joining the cheerleading squad, even dating handsome basketball player T-Boom. But the memories of Hurricane Katrina refuse to dim, and when T-Boom offers her "the moon" (crystal meth), Laurel finds that taking the drug is the only way to ease her grief.
Nancy Paulsen Books. 192 pages. $16.99. ISBN: 9780399252501
Los Angeles Times [EXCELLENT]
"It is both surprising, and surprisingly relatable, that Laurel had been a cheerleader and that the person who first got her hooked on the drug was the co-captain of her school's basketball team. Choosing such athletically oriented, popular high school characters underscores the pernicious reach of meth--the second-most-abused illicit drug in the world after marijuana." SUSAN CARPENTER
Publishers Weekly [EXCELLENT]
"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."
"The story is well-written and divided into short, easy-going chapters that make the novel a swift, but captivating, read. Readers of Ellen Hopkins and realistic fiction are sure to devour this title." SUSAN HAMPE
Washington Post [EXCELLENT]
"Though Woodson doesn't stint on the grim details of Laurel's swift addiction (neglect of her brother, homelessness) and difficult recovery (withdrawal symptoms, relapses), this powerful story is less a cautionary tale than one of courage, the courage to face the past, integrate emotional pain and rectify mistakes." MARY QUATTLEBAUM
School Library Journal [GOOD]
"The brevity of Beneath a Meth Moon leads to a lot of telling and not enough showing.... Laurel's internal voice is powerful, but everything else seems to get short shrift, especially the other characters."
Jacqueline Woodson has never shied away from the tough issues facing to-day's youth. Pregnancy, broken homes, interracial relationships, the foster care system--she's written about them all. Most critics agreed with the Los Angeles Times assessment that, "In less talented hands, such a concept with a one-two punch could easily be dismissed as sensationalism, but Woodson handles each aspect of her story with compassion and lyricism." However, the story felt slim to the School Library Journal critic, who thought it could have been fleshed out with stronger characterizations. But overall, Beneath a Meth Moon is as another remarkable story for teens and adults, one that will strike a chord with readers who recognize Laurel as the regular kid from their own families and neighborhoods.