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on May 21, 2012
I liked this book. It was a quick read, and I loved how the writing style reflects Laurel's state of mind. Laurel's story is told in brief, halting flashes, jumping from past to present. I really felt like it was written in moments between her highs -- small moments of lucidity when she wasn't feeling the effects of meth. And then, there was a dreamy, almost ethereal quality to the language, which made the narrative seem like Laurel was in-between states. Not quite high, not quite grounded in reality. I thought it was perfect for a journal of a girl who is trying to break her addiction and start a new life.

The story Laurel tells is heart-breaking, and I love how Woodson is able to bring together recent events to tell a story that some teenagers can really relate to. Beneath a Meth Moon tackles the after-effects of Hurricane Katrina and paints a small picture of the suffering and devastation that followed the event. It also goes into the widespread use of meth among teenagers, and how their lives are ruined by their addiction. And despite these horrific and depressing events, she turns it into a hopeful message. Life goes on. We are able to go on with it by just putting one foot in front of the other and getting through bad times step by step.

However, while I appreciated the link between the style and Laurel's frame of mind, I would have liked there to have been more development. In the flashes we get of Laurel's life in a new town, I don't feel as if she has moved on. I don't feel like she has a best friend, or even get the sense of a boyfriend from T-Boom. The way she started meth confused me. T-Boom held out a meth-covered finger to her and told her to sniff. Why did she? Why didn't she just leave the guy? What was going on in her mind while she did this? We don't know. Laurel never tells us. And while theorizing would make for good discussion in a book club or classroom, I would have liked a little more in terms of why and how, besides the fact that she is depressed about the deaths of her mother and grandmother. I didn't need a lot, but something that hints as to why she felt compelled to start meth in the first place.

Still, I do think this book has a lot going for it. It's a quick read and can be used in a classroom as a perfect source of metaphor, symbolism, and style. But maybe supplement it with a lesson on the dangers and effects of meth, because while Laurel's life does fall apart, the health consequences are briefly mentioned. And with the dreamy quality of the narrative, I'm not sure the second-hand stories of death have enough of an impact.

*I received this book from LibraryThing as part of the Early Reviewers Group in exchange for my honest review.*
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on May 2, 2012
Before the moon Laurel was a normal girl. A girl who had dreams and aspirations of one day becoming a writer. A girl who had friends and family. But that was before. Before Hurricane Katrina. Before her, her daddy, and younger brother Jessie left to go stay with her aunt. Before the water washed away her home. Before the water washed away her mamma and grandmamma. Before life as she knew it ended.

But when new boyfriend T-Boom turns Laurel onto Moon a new life opens up to her. A life she never knew was possible. Feeling higher than life, the moon allows her to move forward and to forget the past.

Her new life means forgetting. Forgetting the past, the people she loves and who love her, forgetting herself. Is Laurel strong enough to shake her habit, or will she die before she has the chance to?

Written by acclaimed author Jacqueline Woodson, Beneath a Meth Moon is a gut-wrenchingly painful, yet beautiful examination of addiction.

Just under two hundred pages Woodson's has brought the life and struggles of a meth addict to light. These struggles aren't pretty, they are gritty and often ugly. These struggles aren't easy, they're ruthless and full of frightful emotions. These struggles, as Woodson presents them, are startlingly realistic.

Woodson's writing is sharp and purposeful. Beyond that there is a poetic quality to her writing. And even though as hopeless as Laurel's story is, there is a hopeful tone to the overall book. As the story bounces from one point in time to a completely different, unrelated point, readers won't only understand Laurel's life as a meth addict, but will come to appreciate the brutal honesty in which her story is told.

Laurel, who's often portrayed as weak due to her crippling meth addiction, is a strong character. Not just strong, but memorable. Reader's will carry her story with them, in the minds and hearts long after the book has ended. At first glance Laurel often appears helpless, lost, and weak. But the perseverance that lives inside of her makes her a powerful character that is determined to make a better life for herself dispite her problems.

Beneath a Meth Moon is a one of a kind book. Reader's will appreciate Woodson's delicate handling of the subject matter, and will applaud her honesty.
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on February 20, 2012
I saw the review for "Beneath a Meth Moon" in the Sunday LA Times, bought the book on a Monday and finished the book on a Tuesday the same week. What a rush from the words of the gifted author, Jacqueline Woodson.

The book is presented in short chapters, giving the feeling of the jumpiness meth induces in its users. The main character, Laurel, calls meth "the moon," because it takes her over the moon beyond her troubles. After losing loved ones in a flood, she thinks she can go on, for she has a baby brother and a good father. But the moving around, the new high school, the influence of first love, these things lead her to experiment with meth. The experiment becomes the only thing that matters in her life, how to get meth, how to find meth, where to get enough money to buy meth. Meth, meth, meth, meth (always called "moon" by Laurel.)

Woodson, I felt, did an extraordinary job of making Laurel both believable and sympathetic. While most people have no patience with addicts or their problems, Woodson reveals the body's reaction to the first experience and the mental relief Laurel feels to have something new to drown her unhappiness. Laurel at that point does not know or care that the other side of addiction is ugly and destructive.

A book I would recommend to all parents and all teens, including early teens. It's a warning without being a sermon.
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VINE VOICEon July 13, 2013
Crystal meth has become a scourge upon our young people. But do you really understand why? I can't say I do, but in Jacqueline Woodson's heartbreaking tale, Beneath a Meth Moon, I feel like I witnessed the devastation first-hand.

Laurel's mama packed her and her baby brother up to go with their father north, away from the hurricane, away from the water. She said it would only be a few days and that she couldn't leave Laurel's grandmother M'Lady behind, but she lied. It was forever. As they turned and drove away, they never thought that would be the last time she would see or speak to her mother. But the water came. And the water couldn't be stopped. And the water took everything away.

At first they lived with Laurel's aunt, but in search of more work, they headed to a new town with new people and new opportunities. Laurel meets Kaylee and starts cheering. Everything finally seems like it might be a life worth living again. Until Laurel meets T-Boom, the co-captain of the team. It is T-Boom who introduces Laurel to the moon. And once she starts the moon, it isn't so easy to stop. Especially when it takes away all the memories, all the pain, and all the emotions.

This is a short, quick story, but it is devastating, both in the poetic beauty with which it is written, and the haunting devastation of the content. You see this innocent 15 year old girl who lost her mother and her grandmother, and even having a loving father and a little brother who needs her can't make her stop using. She knows it is killing her, she sees herself in the store windows, but when the itch starts, all she can think about is the moon (meth).

I have read a number of addiction YA stories in the past, but there is something so melodic and poetic about the way this story was written that it makes you almost feel guilty in finding beauty in a story of such devastation. That conflict of emotions may be what made me like this story so much. It is written in simple language with large type and is a fast story, so this would be a very good story for an older student who struggles with reading. They won't be bogged down by the heavy content because the writing style is so smooth and easy to read. This story makes me want to explore more from Woodson. I am very impressed by my first story from her!
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on January 31, 2014
This book is powerful. After turning the last page on most books, I sit for a while and consider the journey I just went on with the characters.

But with Beneath a Meth Moon, it haunts you.

For days, I have thought about Laurel. I know Laurel. I see Laurel on the faces of too many who are prisoners to their meth addiction. I see Laurel through the actions of my father’s ex-girlfriend who couldn’t overcome her addiction.

I’m struggling with an appropriate review for this book. It exceeds any star rating system that we can drum up. It exceeds the definition of book. Beneath a Meth Moon is real. Dangerously real. Everyone should be reading this book.

I’ve read a few other books on addiction, but nothing has gotten my attention like Beneath a Meth Moon. I’ve noticed that some complain about the story jumping from memories to present day. But it’s brilliant. It truly shows how the mind of someone on meth works. There is no present, there is no past. Everything blends into one macabre reality that you cannot escape.

I really do not have words for how good this book is. I’ll only say that everyone should read it. Even if you can’t relate to Laurel, you need to experience this.
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VINE VOICEon June 3, 2012
Beneath A Meth Moon moves back and forth through time and is told by the main character, Laurel. She's lost both her mother and grandmother in Hurricane Katrina and moves from her home to a new town with her father and little brother. Laurel is a writer and was encouraged by her grandmother to keep writing everything down and this encouragement continues when she meets a new friend, Kaylee. The words aren't enough though and in her despair she finds solace in a new boyfriend and with him comes his addiction and supply of meth. She quickly becomes addicted as well and ends up living on the streets due to her addiction. There she meets Moses, an artist, who knows just what Laurel is up to and calls her on it, letting her know that she is going to end up dead if she continues on this way.

This book is written as an elegy, which I have never read before. I read this quickly and in one evening, it is short and the words are printed in a large font on the pages. Even if it weren't formatted that way, I still would have finished it quickly as it was truly engrossing. It is a very emotional story that deals with loss and being lost and not knowing how to process the feelings. The author has handled all of these thoughts and feelings wonderfully and made it very easy to relate to what Laurel is going through. Tears flowed again and again as I was reading and I was surprised that a short read could be so emotional and compelling. I can see this book being something teachers and parents will want their children to read as well due to the life lesson learned and the horrible reality of addiction.

Reviewed by Jessica for Book Sake.
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on April 9, 2012
Renowned YA author Jacqueline Woodson writes poetically about an intense and sobering subject: teenage drug addiction. BENEATH A METH MOON is a touching novel that challenges many commonly held notions about teenage drug use and the way society treats young addicts --- the idea that addicts begin with a lesser substance, that they are troubled kids, that they lack good parental support, that most are criminals or misfits, that addiction doesn't happen to smart, good kids. This is the story of a good-natured girl who falls easily into a haze of invisibility, a peculiar kind of elegy to family and friends who support and inspire substance abusers, and to the twisted poetry of "the moon," the euphoric substance with deadly appeal for those with a death wish.

By all standards, Laurel Daneau was a good girl before using meth. She came from a loving Southern family and was a cheerleader in her Mississippi high school, the new kid in town who had made a few solid friends and had shown fair prospects. But her emotional troubles began long before using meth or becoming friendless and hopeless. Laurel lost her mother and grandmother in a tragic flood during a hurricane that hit much of Mississippi hard and left the family drifting.

Laurel's father was unaware of the degree of Laurel's emotional displacement when he moved the family away from their home at Pass Christian, Mississippi, to live with relatives in Galilee. He had been dealing with his own grief along with his daughter's and was just hoping to "make a new start." Unfortunately, Laurel was still in shock even while attempting to relive many cherished childhood memories. Ironically, her grandmother's words would become prophetic and redeeming for her: "While you're living...It's the rocks in your life that will stand by you. Your words, your friends, your family."

This girl's complex psychological state is revealed very subtly and makes for some interesting reading from beginning to end. Obviously there is some increased susceptibility to peer pressure here and dangerous modes of coping. In no time at all, after her first use of "the moon," Laurel becomes a deranged beggar, her family unaware of her whereabouts and her father worried sick about her as she's out begging, unsettled, freezing, and nearly starving to death on the streets --- but still in denial. It is too easy for "respectable society" to forget and ignore kids like her, people who do nothing more than throw a coin and not look at or recognize the homeless --- something most of us are guilty of, a simple means by which we deal with our feelings of guilt, worry and disgust. Were it not for the saving grace of true friends, children like Laurel wouldn't stand a chance at recovering from serious drug addictions.

BENEATH A METH MOON is intoxicating, very artistic and emotive. It will capture hearts even while it educates readers about the complex, difficult experiences and mindsets of drug-addicted teens. Woodson is very honest in her writing style and provides a direct but caring perspective for teenagers and parents. She also provides an equal focus on society's ill treatment of the homeless, a marginalized group that is much too easily discarded and forgotten by everyone but their own families. This is a transformative novel I would highly recommend to any young adult reader, and every parent or adult who seeks a better understanding of the nature and victims of deadly substances.

Reviewed by Melanie Smith
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on October 7, 2015
This was an excellent book for teens. So real. Was concerned at first about the subject so I read prior to my child reading. However, no concerns and the book was an excellent honest book about the extreme dangers of meth....
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on April 13, 2012
Although the topic of Jacqueline Woodson's latest novel is dark, her impeccable writing skills, a well known trademark for her readers and admirers, once more work their magic. Only she could bring beauty through the horrifying world of meth. In addition to the pitch perfect description of heartbroken Laurel and of the ravaging consequences of addiction, no other writer tells about first love as well as Woodson. In each of her books, she manages to make my heart beat in the exact same way it did when I was also a young girl in love for the first time. And that is proof of a fine understanding of the teenage heart and of an immense talent.
A small book in comparison to the typical contemporary YA novels, Beneath a Meth Moon holds in 180 pages the essence of what it is to be a teenager in the 21th century.
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on May 14, 2012
Laurel used to have a fairly average life - school, cheerleading, hanging out in Mississippi. Then a boyfriend introduced her to meth and now she's begging on street corners, knowing her life is in the toilet but unable to shake her cravings. Not nearly as bleak as the writings of Ellen Hopkins (CRANK, et al) or the classic GO ASK ALICE, but still a fairly heavy-handed cautionary tale. A quick read and a great choice for readers who want to spend a few hours immersed in the druggie world, and still be able to sleep in their own beds at night.
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