SAVING BECK by Courtney Cole


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A teenager full of promise succumbs to drugs and ends up fighting for his life in this heart-wrenching, suspenseful tale.

The book opens as Beck is being rushed to the emergency room. He showed up on his mother’s doorstep after having disappeared for two straight months and immediately collapsed from a drug overdose. The doctors put Beck into a medically induced coma and tell his mother, Natalie, that they will wait 24 hours for the swelling in his brain to decrease. Until they bring him out of the coma, they won’t know whether he will survive. Most of the story is told as Natalie is at the hospital, waiting to see whether her son will live or die. The narration alternates between the history that led Beck to this moment and the present, when his mother is praying for his survival. We learn that Beck was visiting colleges with his dad when they got into a car accident that resulted in his father’s death. Following the sudden loss of her husband, Natalie spirals into debilitating depression, leaving 18-year-old Beck with the responsibility of looking after his much younger siblings and paying the household bills. As Natalie’s depression drags on, Beck’s guilt at surviving the accident increases, and his own coping skills decline. He helps himself to Natalie’s Xanax, which takes the edge off, but only at first. Soon this superstar athlete is regularly smoking pot. But the marijuana, too, ceases to adequately dull Beck’s memories and grief. When his buddy hands him some heroin, Beck decides to go for it. Before long, he is completely hooked and slipping into an increasingly dangerous lifestyle of needles, drug dealers, and violence. This riveting story highlights the unrelenting force of addiction and the havoc it can wreak on any family. Through accessible and absorbing prose, Cole (The Nocte Trilogy, 2015, etc.) tells an important tale full of complex characters and nuanced family drama.

An intense but stunningly hopeful story about drug addiction, loss, and relationships.

Pub Date: July 17th, 2018
ISBN: 978-1-5011-8452-9
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 2018


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