TWEAK

GROWING UP ON METHAMPHETAMINES

In the publisher’s second (and lesser) recent drug memoir, golden-boy-to-be Sheff recounts his descent from casual drinking and pot smoking as a teenager to heroin, cocaine and crystal-meth abuse in his early 20s. Full of jaw-tightening and occasionally grisly scenes of shooting up, deals gone bad, guns and sex, Sheff’s story takes off like a shot in the arm with a terse, honest and spontaneous narrative. However, the page after page of needle-packing, drama and fighting among friends, lovers and drug partners eventually leads to desensitization and disconnect, which may be Sheff’s point. But less patient readers, numbed by the truckload of troubles dumped on every page, may find themselves flipping through the pages to get to that point. Part 2 begins with what appears to be the author’s recovery: Our hero, now seemingly clean—albeit temporarily—works part-time in a salon and publishes film reviews by night. Once again, however, he falls under the spell of romance and cocaine in the guise of a wealthy, L.A. socialite’s daughter, and he’s shipped off to rehab once again. A raw, directionless search for the truth. (For his father’s side of the story, see Beautiful Boy, 2007) (Nonfiction. YA)

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-4169-1362-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Ginee Seo/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2007

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A powerful reminder of a history that is all too timely today.

THEY CALLED US ENEMY

A beautifully heart-wrenching graphic-novel adaptation of actor and activist Takei’s (Lions and Tigers and Bears, 2013, etc.) childhood experience of incarceration in a World War II camp for Japanese Americans.

Takei had not yet started school when he, his parents, and his younger siblings were forced to leave their home and report to the Santa Anita Racetrack for “processing and removal” due to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066. The creators smoothly and cleverly embed the historical context within which Takei’s family’s story takes place, allowing readers to simultaneously experience the daily humiliations that they suffered in the camps while providing readers with a broader understanding of the federal legislation, lawsuits, and actions which led to and maintained this injustice. The heroes who fought against this and provided support to and within the Japanese American community, such as Fred Korematsu, the 442nd Regiment, Herbert Nicholson, and the ACLU’s Wayne Collins, are also highlighted, but the focus always remains on the many sacrifices that Takei’s parents made to ensure the safety and survival of their family while shielding their children from knowing the depths of the hatred they faced and danger they were in. The creators also highlight the dangerous parallels between the hate speech, stereotyping, and legislation used against Japanese Americans and the trajectory of current events. Delicate grayscale illustrations effectively convey the intense emotions and the stark living conditions.

A powerful reminder of a history that is all too timely today. (Graphic memoir. 14-adult)

Pub Date: July 16, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-60309-450-4

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Top Shelf Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 5, 2019

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MISSISSIPPI TRIAL, 1955

Historical fiction examines the famous case of Emmett Till, whose murder was one of the triggers of the civil-rights movement. Hiram Hillburn knows R.C. Rydell is evil. He watches R.C. mutilate a catfish, but does nothing to stop him. “I didn’t want to end up like that fish,” he says. He watches R.C. throw stones at a neighbor’s house and humiliate 14-year-old Emmett Till, an African-American visitor from Chicago, and still he does nothing. Hiram says, “When things are scary or dangerous, it’s hard to see clear what to do.” When Till is brutally murdered, Hiram is sure R.C. is involved. Hiram, a white teenager who has come back to the Mississippi town where his father grew up, is the narrator and the perspective of the white outsider and the layers of his moral reflection make this an excellent examination of a difficult topic. When the case comes to trial, Hiram knows he must face his own trial: can he stand up to evil and do the right thing? He knows Mr. Paul, the local storeowner, is right: “Figure out what’s right and what’s wrong, and make yourself do the right thing. Do that and no matter what happens, no matter what people say, you’ll have no regrets.” This is a complicated thing to do, as Hiram must summon inner strength and come to terms with who he is—the son of an English professor who hates everything about the South and the grandson of a farmer who loves everything about it. Teen readers will find themselves caught up in Hiram’s very real struggle to do the right thing. (Fiction. YA)

Pub Date: May 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-8037-2745-3

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2002

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