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Beneath a Meth Moon

by Jacqueline Woodson

Published by Nancy Paulsen Books / Penguin, 2012
192 pages
ISBN: 9780399252501

Age 12 and older

In layers of flashback, fifteen-year-old Laurel reveals events that led to her fall into meth addiction and her eventual emergence into a hopeful place of new beginnings. When she was twelve, Laurel’s mother and grandmother died after Hurricane Katrina hit Pass Christian, Mississippi. This devastating loss is brought into greater relief throughout the rest of the novel as the more recent story unfolds. Laurel, her father and young brother eventually settle in the small town of Gallilee. Laurel makes a wonderful friend in Kaylee, becomes a member of the cheerleading squad, and meets basketball co-captain T-Boom. He is the one who introduces her to meth, and Laurel soon becomes consumed by it. Her dad is devastated when he discovers her addiction and tries to help her--to no avail. Laurel runs away and is living on the streets of another small town when she meets Moses, an African American foster kid whose mother, it turns out, died from meth. Moses earns money by painting murals of meth victims—his commissions from bereaved family members serve as cautionary PSAs on buildings around the town. Moses doesn’t look through Laurel like others in the hopes that she’ll disappear; he really sees her and that ends up being the difference between life and death for Laurel, and the start of real healing. Author Jacqueline Woodson treats this hard and timely topic with raw honesty as well as her trademark grace. Laurel’s voice is like a whisper, but one that you want to lean in closer to hear so you don’t miss anything she has to say. (MS) ©2012 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

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