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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
The main character uses and deals drugs, and participates in a robbery, for which he is sent to jail.
Violence & Scariness
A boy is shot in the arm, another shoots a policeman. A man kills another man for calling him a name. Two boys are beaten in jail.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A teen gets pregnant.
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Some, including "s--t" and "f--k."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
This book is all about drug abuse, both illegal and prescription: many references to many different drugs and drug paraphernalia, and the main character is an addict and injects heroin. A mother is a falling-down drunk who has to be dragged home by her son.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this is a book about drug abuse by street punks, so there are plenty of drug and violence references, though nothing graphic, and the main character is forced to confront what the drugs are doing to his life.
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.
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Our Editors Recommend
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