Ellen Hopkins fans will find another look at methamphetamine addiction in this quick, realistic debut.
When 16-year-old Rachel Stevens receives a cryptic email about the location of her missing older brother, Micah, a promising guitarist turned meth addict, she knows she has to try to find him. She enlists the help of Micah’s former band mate, Tyler, and the pair secretly heads to Ocean Beach, Calif. As they roam the city’s seedier neighborhoods, where stolen cars and drug deals are daily occurrences, Rachel’s first-person narration alternates between their search and budding friendship (or possibly more) and recollections of her relationship with Micah, watching Micah slowly succumb to drugs, and her plight with a cheating boyfriend. In the process, she begins to tackle her anger, guilt and grief, to recognize her own weaknesses, and to form her beliefs concerning religion, relationships and even addiction itself (“calling it a disease or saying that addiction was based on predispositions or hereditary seemed to negate the personal choices it took for someone to become an addict”). Although more didactic and less raw, dramatic and compelling than Hopkins’, Rachel’s pursuit enlightens readers about the patterns and hazards of meth addiction, as well as the destruction of the family left behind.
The final pages offer a hopeful conclusion to Rachel’s even bigger search—for herself. (Fiction. 14 & up)