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A PLAGUE YEAR by Edward Bloor

A PLAGUE YEAR

By Edward Bloor

Age Range: 12 & up

Pub Date: Sept. 13th, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-375-85681-5
Publisher: Knopf

Freshman Tom Coleman studies for the PSAT, works for free at the Food Giant his dad runs and plays Nintendo in this rural Pennsylvania town in the fall of 2001, when terrorists and methamphetamine suddenly become big threats.

Bloor (Taken, 2007, etc.) opens with an attempted robbery, allowing Tom to show off his quick thinking. It is the first symptom Tom notices of the coming “plague.” Tom will need more than academic smarts and a hearty work ethic as the town collectively succumbs to meth addiction. Key is a group counseling session about drugs and addiction led by a therapist from outside the community. Both this sophisticated therapist and her good-looking daughter hold an exotic, outsider appeal for Tom. Tom’s family has struggled with addiction in the past, providing a layer of poignancy. As the town goes from a vague awareness of drugs to being overrun by zombie addicts, Tom and the town are challenged to respond. In other hands, the nearby downing of Flight 93 could overshadow the plague, but Bloor’s insight into ordinary people provides a great prism through which to view the events. The language is not particularly elegant (some dialogue is realistically crude), but it carries the big ideas sturdily and with affection for the community and its people.

A likable teen successfully explores a significant social issue without preaching or becoming a symbol. (Historical fiction. 12 & up)