For 17-year-old loner Charlotte Navarro, who lives in a mill town in Maine, addiction is a slippery slope.
Charlotte’s life seems to be permanently tilting downward. At home, her mother is absent, constantly working; her beloved older brother, Leopold, is away serving in Afghanistan; her stepfather is bedridden; and her younger sister, Isabella, seems to hate her. School’s no safe zone, either; she’s failing classes, including library, which used to be her treasured space. Now that Mrs. Schiller, the previous librarian, is gone, Charlotte argues so frequently with her replacement, Ms. Jordan, that she’s constantly in detention. The only way Charlotte knows how to cope with life’s hardships is by taking OxyContin from her grandmother’s stash. Doing so lifts her into happiness. Johnnie C., whom she meets in detention and notices taking little white pills, gives her that rare sense of contentment, too. But, increasingly, especially with Johnnie, Charlotte seems to need more and more pills to maintain that sense of positivity. Although some of the poems feel very young, Dodds presents a genuine, complicated, and struggling teenage protagonist in Charlotte. All characters are assumed white.
An engrossing, lyrical debut with strong appeal for reluctant readers that confronts the realities of addiction through an absorbing first-person narrative. (Verse novel. 14-18)