A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Jeremy, called Lil J, a teen addict, participates in a drug sale that goes bad when the buyer, an undercover cop, gets shot. Falsely blamed for the shooting, Jeremy goes into hiding in an abandoned building. There he meets Kelly, a mysterious guy sitting in one of the rooms with a tv and a remote control, which apparently allows him to see anywhere and anywhen. Showing Jeremy scenes from his own life, past, present, and future, he pushes Jeremy to confront honestly the decisions he has made and the paths he is taking.
Is it any good?
It's a short book (183 pages) almost entirely made up of two guys in a little room in an abandoned house -- talking; but it's hard to put down. Do you remember the movie 12 Angry Men? It was just some guys, in one small room, doing nothing but talking for 95 minutes, and yet you couldn't take your eyes off it. It didn't have any of the things we think a story needs -- romance, humor, action, movement -- just talk. But it was utterly compelling. DOPE SICK is like that, but with a touch of magic realism.
Like 12 Angry Men, it's a bit didactic, and it doesn't matter. It's gritty, and, despite the touch of magic, doesn't shy away from reality, even to its ambiguous ending. With a rhythmic and seamless use of dialect, it examines issues that thousands of teens all over the country wrestle with every day. And, in doing so, it really has two messages. One, for the teens who can relate to Jeremy, says, "There can be a way out." The other speaks to those who don't have to deal with his problems, and who may be tempted to despise and dismiss those like him with little thought. It says, "Here's how he got this way, and it could happen to anyone."
From the Book:
My arm was hurting bad. Real bad. The bone could have been broken. I couldn't tell. I just knew it was hurting and swollen. I felt like just taking the gun out and throwing it away and giving up so I could get the mess over with. I opened my mouth so I wouldn't make so much noise when I breathed. Down the street I saw the patrol car was still at the corner. He had his lights flashing. I didn't know if he'd seen which way I was running or not. I knew I was too tired to keep running much more.
I started to lift my arm to look at my watch and the whole arm just lit up with pain. The bone had to be broken. I figured it was two or three o'clock in the morning. Skeeter had called me just past midnight and told me they got Rico. I knew Rico was going to punk out. In a way I was glad they got him, but I knew he was going to blame everything on me.