Beneath a Meth Moon by Jacqueline Woodson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The meth epidemic hasn't hit my neck of the woods, so it was interesting to read this book with that as its focus. At times it was a little difficult to follow as we travel through three time threads: Laurel's life in Pass Christian just before/after Katrina, her life as she moves to Gilead, and the present. Because it's only a two-year spread, there's not that much to differentiate the threads except context.
Laurel lived in Pass Christian with her parents, her brother Jesse Jr.; her grandmother, M'Lady, played a major role in her life. When the hurricane approaches, she, her father and brother go to her aunt's, but her mother and M'Lady stay behind (planning to move to the Walmart if things get bad). Of course, things do go bad, and the remaining family eventually moves to Gilead to start over. There, she meets Kaylee and joins the cheerleading team... where she meets T-Boom. T-Boom introduces Laurel to meth, and ultimately Laurel ends up begging on the streets for meth money.
Teens who live in areas where meth is a problem will recognize the characters, but for those who don't (or who avoid the drug scene) this might not appeal. The question of whether Laurel would have turned to meth had her mother and M'Lady not died or would she have gotten so involved anyway (assuming she'd met T-Boom or some other meth dealer in Pass Christian) is an interesting one and might lead to some good discussions.
Why a 3 and not a 4 star? I felt that Jesse Jr. was introduced to deliberately tug at our heartstrings, and that type of manipulation irritated me.
ARC provided by publisher.