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Dope Sick Paperback – February 2, 2010

4.2 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Using both harsh realism and a dose of the fantastic, Myers (Game) introduces an inner-city teen in the jaws of a crisis: 17-year-old Lil J is holed up in an abandoned building, believed to have shot an undercover cop in a drug bust, while police officers assemble in the street below. As he searches for a way out, Lil J is stopped by Kelly, an eerily calm vagrant who invites him to cop a squat and check yourself out on the tube. Kelly's TV not only plays scenes from Lil J's life but projects what will happen if he sticks with his current plan: suicide. Shocked, Lil J considers Kelly's question, If you could take back one thing you did... what would it be? Aided by Kelly's TV, Lil J revisits pivotal moments and wrestles with his fate. As expected, Myers uses street-style lingo to cover Lil J's sorry history of drug use, jail time, irresponsible fatherhood and his own childhood grief. A didn't-see-that-coming ending wraps up the story on a note of well-earned hope and will leave readers with plenty to think about. Ages 14–up. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Pursued by police after a drug deal goes disastrously wrong, 17-year-old Lil J hides out in an abandoned building where he encounters a strange, solitary man named Kelly, who is watching television. Stranger still is what Kelly is watching: scenes from Lil J’s past and his prospective future! How can this be? And how to answer the question that Kelly then asks: “If you could do it all over again and change something, what would it be?” As Lil J ponders his answer, Kelly screens more scenes from the teen’s unfortunate life, including his growing heroin habit. Is this a drug-induced hallucination? A ghostly visitation à la Dickens’ Scrooge? A metaphysical fantasy? A cautionary tale? All of the above? Wisely, Myers provides no easy answers to these difficult questions, trusting his readers to find their own truths and lessons in Lil J’s life. Yes, “lessons,” for there is definitely a didactic element here. But, happily, Myers’ narrative strategy is so inherently dramatic that it captures his readers’ attentions and imaginations, inviting not only empathy but also thoughtful discussion. Grades 9-12. --Michael Cart --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Amistad; 1 Reprint edition (February 2, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061214795
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061214790
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.5 x 7.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #238,125 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Theoden Humphrey VINE VOICE on February 10, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I was privileged to read an advance copy of Walter Dean Myers' new book Dope Sick, and let me say, simply: this is a good book. It was nicely crafted for its intended audience, well-written, intriguing and thought-provoking without being too preachy or overly complex. It had a science fiction flair in a realistic story, and I love when authors do that well. The main character, Lil J, was perfectly rendered, and his narrator's voice seemed spot on to me, though I admit some ignorance as to popular street slang of today -- I live in a small town in Oregon, which is not exactly the 'hood. I know that it sounded genuine to my dull ears, and I think it would seem the same to young men who read the book, so I will be recommending this book to them.

The story was interesting, though I know the ending will not satisfy many readers -- the lady or the tiger? I thought it was great, since the book's theme is how hard it is to pinpoint the moment when things start to go wrong in one's life. The story picks up as Lil J is running from the police, having been involved in a drug deal that went bad and ended up with the shooting of an undercover cop; J (whose full name is Jeremy Dance, and that name almost gave me goosebumps, it was so good) runs into a building that seems abandoned but isn't. On an upper story, J finds a mysterious figure named Kelly, watching TV. This TV can show J's life, past, present, and possible future, and Kelly shows J exactly where he is headed and what awaits him there -- and J doesn't like what he sees.
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Format: Hardcover
"'But why do spirits walk the earth, and why do they come to me?'
"'It is required of every man,' the Ghost returned, 'that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellowmen, and travel far and wide; and if that spirit goes not forth in life, it is condemned to do so after death. It is doomed to wander through the world -- oh, woe is me! -- and witness what it cannot share, but might have shared on earth, and turned to happiness!'
"Again the spectre raised a cry, and shook its chain and wrung its shadowy hands.
"'You are fettered,' said Scrooge, trembling. 'Tell me why?'
"'I wear the chain I forged in life,' replied the Ghost. 'I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it. Is its pattern strange to you?'" -- A CHRISTMAS CAROL

A CHRISTMAS CAROL IN PROSE, BEING A GHOST STORY OF CHRISTMAS is a tale of social injustice and poverty, written by Charles Dickens who was forced to go to work at the age of twelve when his father was sent to debtors' prison. In A CHRISTMAS CAROL, set on Christmas Eve in Scrooge's joyless house, Marley's Ghost holds a metaphorical mirror up to Scrooge, a man who has come to care for nothing but accumulating money. Gaining self-knowledge from the experience and perceiving what is to become his own wretched fate, Scrooge comes to understand that he has the power to change himself and alter that fate. Thanks to epiphany, change, and redemption, Scrooge's own future is brighter and -- like ripples moving outward in ever-widening circles -- things will be better for everyone around him.

"Kelly talked street, but I wasn't sure. Something about him wasn't from the 'hood.
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Format: Hardcover
Gold Star Award Winner!

Lil J is running away from his problems. His alcoholic mother can't seem to get straight, he can't find a decent job, and now the cops are breathing down his neck. A drug deal has gone sour, and Lil J finds himself holed up in an abandoned crack house, wounded and afraid.

He meets Kelly, a young man who asks a lot of questions and wields a television remote control. The entire situation doesn't make sense to Lil J, and things really start getting crazy when Kelly begins to play segments of Lil J's life on the TV screen.

"If you could do it all over again, and change something, what would it be?," Kelly asks Lil J.

Lil J sifts through his memories, attempting to pinpoint the moment in his life that changed him forever. Many secrets are unearthed and Lil J comes to the realization that it wasn't just one thing; it was all the little things that added up and multiplied into this mess he calls his life.

Lil J is searching for redemption, but can he find it in time - and does he even deserve it?

Walter Dean Myers is a masterful storyteller who takes ideas about urban life and morphs them into something that is truly original and unexpected. His ability to use surrealism in a very real, life-altering situation shows that you can make a point without shoving it in your face.

DOPE SICK is an excellent piece of writing that will keep you questioning until the end.......and after.

Reviewed by: LadyJay
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