When we first meet 19-year-old Samantha, she sounds like a normal teenager, writing in her diary about an ex-boyfriend: "I will never fall in love again, never, ever! Why is life so cruel? Why do people like to hurt each other?" But a mere three months later--after moving into her own apartment, taking a job as a topless dancer, and becoming addicted to heroin--her tone takes on that of a grizzled drug abuser: "I've been shooting in my bony hip area... toward my groin, so no one can detect the needle points on my rear when I wear my G-string, and I'm getting terribly numb there." Samantha's story is told entirely in the form of her journal entries, which vividly reflect this young woman's rapid descent into the seedy world of addiction.
Author Linda Glovach creates a likable, believable character in Samantha: we recognize her humanity as a girl genuinely troubled by her mother's alcoholism (as well as by her mom's lascivious boyfriend); we feel the unconditional love she harbors for her diabetic Maine coon cat; we shake our heads as her greed for money and flippant attitude about her addiction cause Sam to make naive decisions. As Sam spirals further downward--still unaware of how far gone she really is, even though she can't complete a journal entry without shooting up--readers will feel the remorse of what could have been, and may learn a valuable lesson in the process. (Ages 13 and older) --Brangien Davis
From Publishers Weekly
Reading this diary of a heroine addict is like watching someone fall into an abyss: knowing a crash is inevitable, but wondering how soon and how hard rock bottom will be. The narrator, 19-year-old Samantha Strasbourg, seems doomed from the beginning, living with an alcoholic mother and her mother's abusive boyfriend, and working a dead-end job at a fast-food restaurant. When Sam moves into her own apartment, she appears to be taking a positive step; however, new-found independence breeds a different set of problems, like raising enough money for rent. Sam starts dancing in a topless bar to raise more cash?and starts using heroin to release her inhibitions on stage. Her downward spiral gains momentum as the drug begins to take over her life. Although "skin popping" makes Sam feel like she is in "heaven," her existence grows increasingly hellish as her health deteriorates and her sense of judgment rapidly declines. Glovach pulls no punches describing the seductive power of heroin ("I felt this great peace, at last, a warmth and I knew that everything was going to be okay") as well as identifying its destructive effects ("I'm always just waiting for the next high and now I use it to do every little thing, and every little thing becomes harder to do"). Unlike the cumulative portrait of the drug's devastation through the layering of perspectives that is found in Smack! (Children's Forecasts, Apr. 27), Glovach's guileless first-person narrative has the effect of sucking readers into the tiny world inside Sam's head, where choices are few, and good and evil are indiscernible. The novel (too intense for younger teens) offers a shocking, thoroughly credible glimpse of addiction, which forces readers to draw their own conclusions about Sam's tragic life. Ages 12-up. (Sept.) FYI: Glovach is a co-author of Go Ask Alice.
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