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Beneath a Meth Moon Hardcover – February 2, 2012
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Woodson’s first YA offering since After Tupac and D Foster (2008) will not disappoint readers. Fifteen-year-old Laurel is living a post-Katrina nightmare—having lost her mother and grandmother in the storm—but, after moving to Galilee, Mississippi, she’s faring better: she has a best friend, a spot on the cheerleading squad, and an athlete boyfriend, T-Bone. Then T-Bone introduces her to meth, or “the moon,” named for the lightness and nothingness it brings, and her painful past is gone. Woodson deftly cycles back and forth between events surrounding the storm and Laurel’s drug-addicted life on the street. In a short preface, Laurel writes that this story is her personal “elegy to the past,” and narrative techniques—such as weaving italicized thoughts and conversations seamlessly into the text—create the intimate sense of reading a journal. A slim but affecting novel, this ends on a hopeful note: perhaps it is possible to write pain “into the past and leave some of it there,” and reimagine a future. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Woodson returns to her YA roots here. With legions of built-in fans and plans for extensive social-networking/blogger outreach, there’s sure to be a lengthy waiting list for this one. Grades 8-11. --Ann Kelley
"Woodson takes us on the dark journey of addiction, mimicking the slow, hazy spell of drug use with the lull of her poetic prose. . . . Laurel's descent is brutally honest. . . . An intimate and compelling story of survival." — The Horn Book
"As accurate as it is heartbreaking; readers will be deeply moved . . . they'll sympathize with [Laurel's] desire to find some way to feel better. . . . Readers looking to understand the attraction of a destructive substance will get a glimmer of understanding." — The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
"Will not disappoint readers. . . . Ends on a hopeful note: perhaps it is possible to write pain 'into the past and leave some of it there,' and reimagine a future." — Booklist
Top customer reviews
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!
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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