A scrupulously researched, well-crafted tale that sheds light on a timely topic.

In this young adult adaptation of his adult title Dreamland (2015), seasoned journalist Quinones narrates a fast-paced exposé of the opiate epidemic.

The story begins and ends in Portsmouth, Ohio, a leader in both societal decline due to addiction and, years later, hope for recovering addicts. Quinones lays out the causes of the epidemic as if bringing together puzzle pieces. Purdue Pharma’s ad campaign targeting physicians downplayed the addictive nature of painkillers; physicians overprescribed them, most—but not all—with sincere intentions of helping their patients. A seemingly endless stream of Mexican drug dealers sought out the addict population as customers for their imported black tar heroin, which provided the same euphoria but with less cost and inconvenience. Presented as victims are the addicts—predominantly white families, at first poor and rural, later from privileged backgrounds. The efforts of law enforcement and public health officials to tackle the problem are detailed. Personal profiles crafted from interviews keep things interesting, and the technical descriptions of the various drug forms and the history of opiates are informative. Although the author describes the radical about-face by lawmakers who took a “tough on crime” approach to drugs when victims were predominantly black, readers may finish the book with the impression that Mexicans have wreaked havoc on innocent white lives.

A scrupulously researched, well-crafted tale that sheds light on a timely topic. (epilogue, photographs, reading guide, source notes) (Nonfiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: July 16, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5476-0131-8

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: April 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019


From the Pocket Change Collective series

Small but mighty necessary reading.

A miniature manifesto for radical queer acceptance that weaves together the personal and political.

Eli, a cis gay white Jewish man, uses his own identities and experiences to frame and acknowledge his perspective. In the prologue, Eli compares the global Jewish community to the global queer community, noting, “We don’t always get it right, but the importance of showing up for other Jews has been carved into the DNA of what it means to be Jewish. It is my dream that queer people develop the same ideology—what I like to call a Global Queer Conscience.” He details his own isolating experiences as a queer adolescent in an Orthodox Jewish community and reflects on how he and so many others would have benefitted from a robust and supportive queer community. The rest of the book outlines 10 principles based on the belief that an expectation of mutual care and concern across various other dimensions of identity can be integrated into queer community values. Eli’s prose is clear, straightforward, and powerful. While he makes some choices that may be divisive—for example, using the initialism LGBTQIAA+ which includes “ally”—he always makes clear those are his personal choices and that the language is ever evolving.

Small but mighty necessary reading. (resources) (Nonfiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09368-9

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020


Though awkward, this adaptation still makes for a hopeful and inspiring story.

This story, an adaptation for young people of the adult memoir The Other Wes Moore (2008), explores the lives of two young African-American men who share the same name and grew up impoverished on the same inner-city streets but wound up taking completely different paths.

Author Moore grew up with a devoted mother and extended family. After receiving poor grades and falling in with a bad crowd, his family pooled their limited finances to send him to Valley Forge Military Academy, where he found positive role models and became a Corps commander and star athlete. After earning an undergraduate degree, Wes attended Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. When the author read about the conviction of another Wes Moore for armed robbery and killing a police officer, he wanted to find out how two youths growing up at the same time in the same place could take such divergent paths. The author learns that the other Wes never had the extensive family support, the influential mentors or the lucky breaks he enjoyed. Unfortunately, the other Wes Moore is not introduced until over two-thirds of the way through the narrative. The story of the other Wes is heavily truncated and rushed, as is the author's conclusion, in which he argues earnestly and convincingly that young people can overcome the obstacles in their lives when they make the right choices and accept the support of caring adults.

Though awkward, this adaptation still makes for a hopeful and inspiring story. (Memoir. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 11, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-74167-5

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: April 24, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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