By Kate Pavao,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Teens in rehab deal with addiction, other mature problems.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Teens can talk about the factors that drive addiction, and even what it takes to forgive yourself after you've made mistakes. See our "What To Talk About" section for some other discussion ideas.
There is a hopeful conclusion here. In a final letter, one of the protagonists reminds the friends that she met in rehab that they "deserve to be happy" even though they have made serious mistakes in their lives.
Positive Role Models
The characters here have "screwed up" -- even beyond their drug addictions. But they learn to trust and depend on each other -- and become stronger through their time in rehab and with each other.
Violence & Scariness
A drunk teen was babysitting his sister when she fell down the stairs, an accident that left her brain damaged. Another character threatens a bully with a chair. When a girl says no to sex, a boy shakes her. The same girl later reveals that she had been raped four years ago. Mention of parental abuse. A high character crashes her car. Another girl cuts herself.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A boy trades drugs for sex with another boy; a girl and a boy sneak into a bathroom to have sex, but don't; a girl admits that she had lots of partners; a pregnant character and another who was a prostitute to pay for drugs. Another boy recalls sleeping with a virgin, who may be as young as 12, and then shooting her up with his semen.
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Some mature words, such as "s--t" and "f--k"; also, a slur for gay people, "bitch," etc.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
This is a book about addiction, and the teen characters in the rehab center have different dependencies, including alcohol, painkillers, cocaine, and meth. They describe their drug use, but don't glamorize it and know that their addictions are destructive to them.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this book is about teen drug addicts in a rehabilitation facility. The teen characters have different dependencies, including alcohol, painkillers, cocaine, and meth. The characters have done terrible things -- or had terrible things done to them -- but in the end, they form bonds and become stronger as a result of their therapy and friendships. There is a hopeful conclusion here. In a final letter, one of the protagonists reminds the friends that she met in rehab that they "deserve to be happy" even though they have made serious mistakes in their lives. Also, most of the more disturbing details are told as memories so they don't seem quite as visceral.
Where to Read
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What's the Story?
Teen drug addicts come together at a rehab center to discuss their addictions, work through their painful pasts -- and to form unlikely friendships. They are from different walks of life and have different dependencies (Jason drinks, Olivia takes pills, Christopher uses meth, etc.), but they all take turns as narrator, giving voice to their own stories and pain. Readers also see them interact at group therapy sessions, where a helpful counselor helps them understand their addiction, and how to live with it.
Is It Any Good?
The author creates a rather scripted ensemble of protagonists -- the rich girl, the Christian boy, etc. -- but there is still plenty for teen readers to ponder here. They can think about the factors that drive addiction, and even what it takes to forgive yourself after you've made mistakes. The book's format, which alternates among the five main protagonists, their group therapy sessions, personal essays, and questionnaires makes for a fast, if somewhat shallow, read. But even readers who find the narrative taking predictable turns will be touched by the book's hopeful messages about supporting friends in need -- and why everyone deserves good things in their life.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about books dealing with teen drug addiction. Do stories like this one do anything to either prevent -- or normalize -- teen drug use? How does this book compare to other media -- books, movies, etc. -- that deal with drug addiction?
How does this book compare to Reed's other novel Beautiful, which also deals with mature subjects, such as rape, teen sex, and drug use? Are there any topics that are too mature for teens? Or is it important for books to tackle tough topics?
- Author: Amy Reed
- Genre: Coming of Age
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Simon Pulse
- Publication date: July 19, 2011
- Number of pages: 288
- Last updated: July 14, 2015
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